As the Deputy will appreciate, vetting applications are an operational matter for An Garda Síochána. Neither I, as Minister, nor my Department have any role in the processing of individual vetting applications.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that all Garda National Vetting Bureau (GNVB) staff have continued to work on-site over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, working Monday through Sunday to ensure that delivery of this essential pubic service is maintained. Since 12 March 2020, over 125,000 COVID-19 related Vetting Applications have been processed and GNVB have been instrumental in supporting efforts to curb the impact of coronavirus across Ireland.
Throughout this period, GNVB has focused on ensuring that minimum disruption was caused to the vetting process for the 26,600 relevant organisations working with children and vulnerable persons across Ireland, despite the huge demands placed on the services of the GNVB.
I am further advised that the GNVB has recently experienced a pent up demand from relevant organisations upon their resumption of services following the easing of restrictions. This has resulted in the GNVB receiving exceptionally large amounts of vetting applications within very short timeframes, as opposed to the more traditional spread of applications annually.
This has caused larger than normal vetting applications to be in the system at the same time, and with other pressing demands, has extended the traditional turnaround times from 5 working days, to approximately 7/8 working days for most applications.
The GNVB has previously communicated with all of the relevant organisations to advise them of the current turnaround times and to assure them that the GNVB continues to process their vetting applications as expeditiously as possible.
As the Deputy may be aware, Minister McEntee announced in April, the establishment of an inter-departmental group to undertake a review of Garda vetting arrangements and legislation. The group will make recommendations for amending legislation and strengthening the Garda vetting process and is due to report by the end of 2021.