CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
7 February 2018
Statement by David Stanton T.D., Minister of State on behalf of Charles Flanagan T.D. Minister for Justice and Equality
The need to screen all staff who may come into contact with children in the Arts and Culture sector.
On behalf of my colleague Minister Flanagan, I thank Deputy Joan Burton for raising this issue.
Vetting in respect of certain employments is carried out by An Garda Síochána, primarily in accordance with the provisions of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012. As the Deputy will appreciate, the primary purpose of these vetting arrangements is to seek to enhance the safety of children and vulnerable adults.
This is vital work and must, of course, be carried out rigorously.
In accordance with the 2012 Act, registered organisations must obtain vetting for persons seeking employment and volunteers, where the relevant work or activities of the position sought involves regular access to children or vulnerable adults.
It is important to highlight that the meaning of ‘relevant work’ in the context of the Act covers:
“Any work or activity which is carried out by a person, a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with, children.”
The protection of children and vulnerable people is of the utmost importance. Strict and sector-specific vetting requirements are set out in the 2012 Act which details the various facilities, establishments and situations in which an individual carrying out ‘relevant work’ as defined in the Act would require Garda Vetting.
The Deputy has asked specifically about need to screen all staff who may come into contact with children in the Arts and Culture sector. The Act provides for a general obligation for staff members for whom a necessary and regular part of their work consists mainly of their having access to children.
The Act includes as ‘relevant work’ the provision of cultural activities to children, unless that is merely incidental to the provision of those activities to adults. For example, a person organising a once-off family arts event would not require Garda Vetting, but a person employed to run a series of art workshops for children would, indeed, need to be vetted.
A question that frequently arises is about duplication of vetting, and this, I believe, is of interest in the arts and culture sectors, where one individual may provide a service for several different organisations.
The Act provides for a degree of flexibility, which helps to lessen the administrative burden for relevant organisations. The Act provides for certain limited circumstances where organisations can share a single vetting disclosure where this is agreed to by the vetting applicant, and also makes specific provision in respect of persons who may be employed on a recurring but non-continuous basis.
That said, we must always be careful to ensure that vetting disclosures are up to date in order to take account of the most recently available information.
The Garda Authorities continue to engage with registered organisations to maintain standards and to promote best practice in vetting.