Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Unacceptable delays in Garda vetting process
In recent years we have seen improved and enhanced child protection legislation introduced in this state. I welcome this and it is vital that we have the highest standards in child care and protection. One of the areas which has improved greatly is in the area of Garda vetting and the establishment of the National Garda Vetting Unit. The Garda Vetting Unit provides employment vetting to a large number of organisations including community, sporting and child care services. The process extends to people who work in these areas whether on a paid or voluntary basis. There are approximately 18,000 organisations in receipt of vetting services from the Garda vetting unit for employment purposes, covering the wide range of health, educational, sporting and recreational sectors in Ireland.
As a consequence the number of vetting applications has increased from 137,000 nationally in 2006 to 250,000 in 2009. This is resulting in significant delays and many applicants are waiting months for their clearance certificate. I am aware of a number of long-term delays in clearing applicants who are waiting to start community employment schemes and training courses. I know of one woman who was offered a job as a C.E. worker months ago but is unable to take up the position as she is waiting for her Garda clearance application to be processed. I know of a number of other cases of people waiting to commence C.E. schemes and training courses but are unable to do so due to a delay in the vetting process.
This is unacceptable. We have 440,000 people nationally and 14,500 people locally out of work. It is difficult enough to get a job, a place on a C.E. scheme or access to a training course without further impediments put in the way. The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform says the average waiting time is 5 weeks. This is simply not the case on the ground. Despite assurances from the Minister that extra personnel have been assigned to the National Vetting Unit I am not entirely satisfied that the unit is properly resourced and staffed. The massive increase in the number of organisations in receipt of vetting services is undoubtedly putting added pressure on the national vetting unit. I fully support the vetting process and I accept that stringent checks must be made to ensure the safety of children but it is unacceptable that people are unable to take up training and employment positions because of protracted delays in the vetting process.