Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Ceisteanna (175)

Eamon Gilmore

Ceist:

250 Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education and Science if his Department has been informed that the Garda Síochána has declined to process an application from a school for a vetting check on a prospective school caretaker on the grounds that Garda clearances are only issued to designated agencies, principally health boards, in respect of prospective full-time employees who may have substantial unsupervised access to children or vulnerable adults; if, in view of the recent Soham case in the UK, he has plans to have schools designated for Garda vetting checks of personnel; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3684/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Education and Science)

As the Deputy will be aware, I am not in a position to comment on individual cases. A joint working group on child protection was established by the North-South Ministerial Council. The group was composed of officials from my Department and the Department of Education, Northern Ireland. It subsequently submitted its report to the council which agreed on the broad approach taken and signalled its desire to have detailed proposals for legislation prepared.

In addition, a cross-governmental working group has been established by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform to consider proposals for reform of vetting of employees by the central vetting unit run by the Garda Síochána. The group, which is chaired by a chief superintendent, has met on seven occasions and is due to meet again this week. Without wishing to prejudice the work of that group, the report of which is expected in the near future, it is clear that the issues involved do not relate only to my own Department, and continuing co-operation between the Departments of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Health and Children and Education and Science will be required in bringing forward reforms.