Review group considers three-yearly vetting of those working with children

Review group considers three-yearly vetting of those working with children

The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee (Niall Carson/PA)

A new mandatory system of re-vetting people working with children every three years is being considered by a review group.

The new proposals being considered by the Department of Justice would involve an obligation on an employer or voluntary organisation to make a new application three years after the original vetting had been carried out.

The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, said the inter-departmental group will examine a number of issues in relation to the garda vetting system and legislation.

Currently, there is no requirement for someone who is vetted once to be re-vetted, unless they move job or position, with sporting or community organisations.

“Vetting is a crucial prerequisite ahead of recruiting people to a number of specific, potentially sensitive, places of employment,” Ms McEntee said.

“In particular, those organisations centred around the safety, enjoyment and comfort of children and vulnerable people, need to take all reasonable steps to ensure that only suitable people are recruited and employed.

“This requires a strong garda vetting process that reassures the public that appropriate checks are conducted on individuals in positions of trust.”

The review group is to examine the issues and will make recommendations for amending legislation and strengthening the garda vetting process.

“The first meeting of the group has already taken place this week and I anticipate the work of the group to take approximately six months,” Ms McEntee added.

The group is also considering introducing a system where vetting for one particular employment can be used across other similar services, removing the need to go through repeat vetting processes.

Redeployment on promotion, or to a substantially different job, would continue to require re-vetting.

Under this proposal, a person employed by the HSE as a social worker would not need to be re-vetted for a change of work location within the basic social worker grade, but would on promotion to a position of greater authority.

This would mean a person vetted to coach under 14s with the GAA could switch to a different sport without being re-vetted.

In both employment and volunteering situations, provision will also be made for vetting certificates to be withdrawn before they expire after three years, if new information emerges that points to a substantive and immediate risk to children or vulnerable adults.

Membership of the group will consist of representatives of the Department of Justice, Department of Health, Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Department of the Taoiseach, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, An Garda Siochana, the Health Service Executive and the Public Appointments Service.

As part of the work of the group, a public consultation process will be undertaken.

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