I am bringing this matter to the attention of the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, because a number of people in the film and theatre sector have raised with me the ongoing issue of the Garda vetting system's interaction with short-term arts projects. When efforts are being made to protect children who are involved in film and television productions, which often involve four-day or five-day projects, it is almost impossible to secure a vetting record at short notice. The managers and producers of shows in which children are involved as participants and as audience members have an obligation to ensure those children are protected. As the Minister of State will be aware, the nature of the culture, arts and entertainment business means that participants can drop out of a show and be substituted at short notice.
I would like to put a question that has been raised with me to the Minister of State. How do directors and producers discharge their duties under the Children First Act 2015? I know he has said that the Garda National Vetting Bureau has a turnaround of approximately five days. I think we are all aware of the discussion that has taken place about this industry in the context of the revelations that have emerged in the Weinstein case and in other cases. Issues can arise when children are part of these productions. In some cases, this activity is extremely well organised and regulated. In other cases, particularly smaller productions featuring people at the start of their careers, there is no real structure that makes information and support available to those who are seeking to comply with child safety and protection requirements.
I would like to hear from the Minister of State about the supports that are available to people in the arts, film and culture sector generally so that their organisations can know in advance what they need to do to ensure children working with them on various artistic projects - in film and theatre, for example - are safe. I have been informed that in a number of instances, producers have discovered after a short show, performance or project lasting less than a week that a performer or participant may have been known to the Garda. It is obvious that such a person would not be suitable to work with children. This is a very serious problem, although I am not aware of any serious incidents to date.
I know there has been a tradition of guardians or chaperones working with children, particularly on bigger productions. Very often, one or both parents or a close relative is on site while a child participates in a particular performance, film or project. That is very good. People doing smaller productions or short projects do not seem to have an easy pathway to the Garda National Vetting Bureau. That is why I am asking the Minister of State to take this significant issue on board. Many people who work in this sector are very anxious to ensure children who are involved in it are properly protected.