I move amendment No. 10:
In page 25, between lines 3 and 4, to insert the following:
"23.—(1) As soon as may be, but not later than 6 months after the end of each year, the Bureau shall, through the Garda Commissioner, present to the Minister a report of the activities of the Bureau in the immediately preceding year, and the Minister shall, as soon as may be after receiving such report, cause copies of the report to be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), if, but for this subsection, the first report under that subsection would relate to a period of less than 6 months, the report shall relate to that period and to the year immediately following that period and shall be made as soon as may be, but not later than 6 months, after the end of that year.".
Again this arises from a discussion we had on Committee Stage. During that debate I stated I would bring forward an amendment that would require the Garda vetting bureau to present a report each year on the activities of the bureau. This amendment introduces the necessary provision and requires the Garda Commissioner to present that report to the Minister for Justice and Equality, who will lay the report before each House of the Oireachtas. This will provide a regular oversight to the Houses of the Oireachtas and to the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality of the manner in which the bureau is working.
This approach is to be favoured over reports simply being subsumed within the annual Garda report. It is important we have an annual overview as to how the bureau is working, whether it is adequately staffed and resourced, if delays are arising and, in the context of the bureau and the chief bureau officer in charge, if any legal anomaly or difficulty has been identified that must be addressed by the terms of legislation. This provision will ensure the necessary information is available annually, thus allowing for an important degree of transparency to the work being undertaken by the bureau. It will also ensure any emerging difficulties are readily identified and made known to Members of the Oireachtas. This provision will have the equal benefit of ensuring any difficulties the Minister should address are clearly detailed and available to Members of the Houses and corrective action to be taken, even in the context of existing legislation, is highlighted.
This is an important provision. We are all conscious this legislation has an important role to play and will impact on many people who are seeking paid employment or willing to engage as voluntary workers with children or adults with special needs. It is particularly useful we have a separate report that focuses on the work done by the bureau and that will ensure whoever is head of the bureau has the freedom to articulate any concerns that might exist in the context of the work being undertaken, the capacity of the bureau to deal with vetting within adequate timeframes and any other issue that might arise on the workings of the legislation.