ISPCC urges government to close gaps in vetting systems in Ireland

October 14, 2009 Updated: October 14, 2009

New vetting system introduced recently in Northern Ireland highlights the lack of such procedures in the Republic of Ireland says ISPCC.

A new vetting and barring scheme for individuals who work with children and vulnerable adults (paid or unpaid) has been launched in Northern Ireland recently. This will involve the implementation of a single children’s barred list in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

This list will be overseen by the new Independent Safeguarding Authority who will make discretionary barring decisions. A range of bodies will be required to refer individuals to the ISA when they have stopped or considered stopping them from working with children in circumstances where harm has been committed or they pose a risk.

According to the ISPCC, this new system in Northern Ireland will place more pressure on the Irish authorities to bring tracking, monitoring and information systems in line with those systems currently used in the UK as the Irish monitoring systems are massively inferior to the UK systems.

The ISPCC statement also pointed out that in the Republic of Ireland at the moment, other than for people performing state services, there is no general legal requirement that employees working in other areas such as childcare must have clearance from the Gardai, nor any other system to bar individuals from working with children.

The ISPCC believes that the developments in the North will leave the Republic of Ireland in a very vulnerable position as individuals who may be barred from working in the UK could still look for work in Ireland. "It is also very important to ensure that we develop systems for sharing information between the north and the south.

“Garda Vetting is a basic child protection measure. Predators who prey on children are not deterred by borders and as such, we need to address the gaps and find a common ground in how we address the issue of vetting and barring thus ensuring that those who want to harm children and young people do not see Republic of Ireland as an easy target because of this gap. We need to act now to ensure children are better protected,” said Ms Ashley Balbirnie CEO of the ISPCC.

To narrow the gap in existence the ISPCC is asking the government to introduce the legislation recommended in 2008 by the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children in relation to Garda Vetting. This would see vetting placed on a statutory footing and the introduction of legislation to allow for the sharing of soft information.