Fine Gael Meath East Deputy and Chair of the Fine Gael Committee on Health, Regina Doherty, has welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, that there is no plan to charge voluntary organisations for vetting applications under the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill 2012.
Deputy Doherty received notification from the Justice Minister following on from a letter the Meath Deputy sent to the Minister to make enquiries about the issue.
“Despite the fact that Section 31 of the Act allows for fees for vetting applications to be charged for certain categories of employment, I welcome the Minister’s assurance that voluntary organisations will not be subject to this. Ensuring that we have adequate vetting procedures in place is essential to protecting our children. The last thing we want is for cost considerations to prevent organisations from playing their part in making sure all children are being cared for in a safe and secure environment.
“Minister Shatter conceded that there may be some consideration given to charging commercial or semi-commercial organisations for vetting in the future. It will come as a welcome relief to voluntary organisations that there is currently no mention of these charges being extended to them.
“It is expected that the Bill will come into effect early in the New Year, requiring those who commence working with children or vulnerable persons on an on-going basis to be vetted. Where retrospective vetting is concerned, there is a provision in the Act to deal with staff who were hired before the Act came into force. It is estimated that, due to existing resources, retrospective vetting will take about two years and that once this issue has been adequately dealt with, it will not need to be revisited. Re-vetting of staff will take place, however, around every 5 years or but this provision will not come into effect until the retrospective vetting process has been properly completed.
“This legislation, together with the Withholding of Information Bill, the placing of the Children’s First Guidelines on a statutory footing and the ratification by the Irish people of the Children’s Referendum, will enable us to ensure that the utmost care and consideration is given to our children’s safety and welfare.”