Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Questions (159)

Terence Flanagan


159. Deputy Terence Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the position regarding Garda clearance in respect of a person (details supplied); the length of time it will take for the backlog of applications to be assessed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50909/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am informed by the Garda authorities that a vetting application on behalf of the individual referred to by the Deputy was received by the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) on 4 November, 2013. The application is currently being processed and once completed will be returned to the registered organisation concerned.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the current average processing time for applications is now approximately 7 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. Nonetheless, this is a significant improvement on the processing time of 14 weeks which existed in July this year. This improvement reflects the fact that I have given this matter particular priority as it is essential that the GCVU has the resources required to perform this most critical of roles effectively and efficiently.

In that context, I have been actively engaged on this issue with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. As a result of that engagement, I am pleased to say that the Garda Commissioner has confirmed to me that there are now 136 whole time equivalent staff assigned to the GCVU, some 41 of whom have been redeployed from elsewhere in the public service since the end of March 2013. Some of these redeployed staff have only recently completed their training in the vetting process, and the full impact of their work will be seen in the coming weeks. Furthermore, I have also received sanction for the redeployment of 40 additional staff to the GCVU. This brings the total number of staff in that service to over 170, more than double that of the average allocation of 78 staff at the Unit over the past two and a half years.

The Deputy may also wish to note that the development of an e-Vetting solution is underway. This will facilitate the processing of all applications in an e-format, thus removing the time-consuming current process of manually managing all applications received. When this is achieved, this system will streamline the overall vetting process in this jurisdiction, and further contribute to reductions in processing times for all vetting applications.