Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (655)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

655. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he will address a matter (details supplied) regarding Garda vetting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36170/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will appreciate that the primary purpose of the employment vetting, carried out by the National Vetting Bureau, is to seek to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults.  It is carried out by An Garda Síochána, primarily in accordance with the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012-2016, and is, as I am sure you will agree, a very important task which must be done thoroughly and correctly.

My Department has no role in the processing of individual vetting applications.

Regarding sharing of vetting information between organisations, vetting checks are conducted by the Garda National Vetting Bureau for each new vetting application received to ensure that the most recent data available is taken into account. This is because once there has been any significant lapse of time between one employment and another, the original vetting disclosure must be reviewed to take account of any changes in information, such as more recent criminal convictions.

In addition, the Data Protection Acts require that any sensitive personal data which employers use in regard to their employees must be current, accurate and up-to-date. Importantly, the general non-transferability and contemporaneous nature of the current process also helps to protect against the risk of fraud or forgery in the process.

The Act does however provide for the sharing of vetting disclosures in certain circumstances by registered organisations; a facility which I understand is of assistance in the health and education sectors, for example, in reducing the need for multiple vetting applications.

All Garda vetting applications are processed on a first come, first served basis in chronological order from date of receipt. This is with a view to observing equity and fairness in respect of all vetting subjects.

In respect of certain applications, it is necessary for the Vetting Bureau to conduct further enquiries; for example to confirm information provided by the applicant with external bodies. The time required to receive such information may be outside of the control of the Vetting Bureau. In such instances, processing times may be significantly longer than the average.

However, in general, the vetting process is working well and I understand that there are no backlogs or delays in Garda vetting at present.

This efficiency has been achieved by the deployment of the e-vetting system which facilitates the on-line processing of applications for vetting from registered organisations. The current turnaround time for vetting applications submitted by organisations utilising the e-vetting system is 5 working days for over 85% of applications received.

Individual applicants can also track the process of their application online using the e-vetting tracking system, details of which are contained in the email received by applicants when completing their application online.