Extraordinary situation

Garda vetting of teachers

It seems extraordinary that 12 years after the setting up of a dedicated Garda central vetting unit, almost half the nation’s teachers have still to be subject to that essential process for people working with children.

Only new teachers and those moving schools are required to obtain Garda clearance, which is administered by the Teaching Council. That means that 36,000 of the 90,000 teachers registered with the council have still to be vetted. While legislation is being drafted that will make it mandatory for people with unsupervised access to children to acquire Garda clearance, existing teachers will still not be subject to the vetting procedures.

Two years ago the number of unvetted teachers was more than 42,000 as the Teaching Council was subject to the same recruitment ban as the public service, even though it is funded by teachers’ registration fees. That situation has improved, but not by enough. Today, there remains the prospect — albeit remote — that children will be in daily close contact with adults who should never be allowed near them.

Considering the overwhelming vote in favour of the Children’s Rights referendum and the forthcoming Child and Family Relationships Bill which describes the interests of children as ‘paramount’, it is essential that the Government puts additional resources in place to ensure that vetting of all teachers takes place sooner rather than later.


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