Catholic schools have welcomed news that new guidelines to streamline the process for vetting people who work in schools are expected shortly.
“We’re absolutely delighted to hear that it’s imminent,” Seamus Mulconry, General Secretary of the Catholic Primary Schools Management Association (CPSMA), told The Irish Catholic. “It will be very welcome by schools and voluntary groups,” he added, continuing, “We look forward to seeing it and spreading the word that it’s out there.”
Statutory changes in the vetting system introduced last year led to an upsurge in applications for clearances for organisations in which people would deal with children and vulnerable adults, with some dioceses having to arrange for as many as four times the number of vetting processes they had previously handled.
This caused a huge vetting backlog, with much of the upsurge due to duplicated vetting, where individuals working or volunteering in more than one school have had to be vetted separately for each organisation.
In principle, this should be unnecessary: section 12(3A) of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 provides that where two or more relevant organisations have jointly agreed in writing for someone to undertake relevant work or activities with them, only one organisation needs to arrange for vetting, as long as that organisation has received a vetting disclosure from the Bureau in respect of the person.
However, Mr Mulconry told The Irish Catholic last week, the CPSMA has been waiting since September for legal clarity from the Attorney General’s office as to how such written agreements would operate.
A Government spokesman has since told The Irish Catholic that when the new requirements were initiated last April, the Department of Education and skills published a circular setting out the statutory vetting requirements applicable to schools along with the practical arrangements that had been put in place to support these procedures.
The Department also issued a Frequently Asked Questions document to assist schools with queries in respect of the circular.
“The FAQ has since been updated and the Department intends to issue a further update shortly which will include guidance in respect of the provisions of 12(3A) of the Vetting Act,” the spokesman said.
See Pages 10-11 for the CPSMA submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Skills.