Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Questions (217)

Pádraig MacLochlainn

Question:

217. Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the serious difficulties for community employment schemes, and potential participants, arising from delays in the Garda vetting unit in processing requests. [35760/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the current average processing time for applications is approximately 14 weeks from date of receipt. However, seasonal fluctuations and the necessity to seek additional information on particular applications can result in this processing time being exceeded on occasion. All organisations registered for Garda Vetting are aware of the processing time-frames for the receipt of Garda vetting and have been advised to factor this into their recruitment and selection process. I remain in ongoing contact with the Garda Commissioner as to how best the service can continue to be delivered and improved upon, while at all times protecting the integrity of the process. Clearly, the protection of children and vulnerable adults is the primary objective of the Garda Central Vetting Unit and this must remain the case.

The possibility of introducing an e-vetting system has been assessed and the Garda authorities are now in the process of developing a system which will enable vetting applications to be submitted electronically through a secure web service. In addition, the system will facilitate the checking and monitoring of applications. The relevant work is being pursued on a priority basis and it will be completed as quickly as possible. With further assignments of staff this month, staffing at the Unit will be of the order of 140 (whole time equivalent) staff, which represents an increase in staff assigned to the Unit of almost 50% since March this year. As staff become fully trained on the vetting process I expect there will be a positive effect on vetting times. My Department is also examining the scope for the redeployment of additional personnel from within the public service to the Unit.