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Serious questions over vetting of pre-school sector staff

10 October, 2006

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD has said there are serious questions to be asked over the credibility of the Government's announcement that Garda vetting will now be extended to staff and volunteers in the pre-school sector. While welcoming the news, he pointed out that the Garda Vetting Unit was currently unable to deal with its existing workload and asked whether the resources would be made available for the Gardaí to deliver the Minister's promises.

The Dublin South-Central TD said: "While I welcome the announcement by Minister Lenihan yesterday that staff and volunteers in the state's pre-school sector will now, at long last, be subject to Garda vetting, there are serious questions over whether the Garda Vetting Unit can deliver the Minister's promises.

"The Vetting Unit is struggling to cope with the demands currently placed on it to vet HSE staff. HSE inspection and registration reports in the Eastern region for 2005 showed that in nine of the ten children residential centres investigated, not all of the employees had been vetted. One centre was forced to wait six months for Garda clearance for potential employees and in another centre the Gardaí refused, according to the report, to investigate staff from the agency running the centre. There are simply not the resources available.

"On top of this, the remit of the vetting unit has been extended to the community and voluntary sector, adding to an existing massive workload. While the Minister claims that there are 17 new staff now with the unit, there are reports that not all of them are working full-time for the unit in a dedicated capacity, an issue the Minister should clarify."


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