Cultural institutions concerned about Garda vetting curbs

Comments come after news that vetting bureau has ‘clamped down’ on applications

National Gallery of Ireland. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

National Gallery of Ireland. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

The National Gallery and the National Museum of Ireland have said that people applying for jobs internally must be subject to thorough Garda vetting amid concerns that candidates who are potentially unsuitable to be around children might not undergo stringent checks in future.

The comments come after the Department of Culture highlighted in private correspondence that the Garda National Vetting Bureau had “clamped down” on the applications it processes.

Concerns have been raised in the department that potentially unsuitable people could seek access to children through such jobs, and not undergo thorough vetting because of the bureau’s contention that the presence of children is “incidental” in the attractions it is responsible for hiring staff to work in.

The National Gallery of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland have specifically said that applicants for roles with them need to be vetted under the Children and Vulnerable Persons Act.

In a letter sent on July 2nd, a senior department official told the bureau that “the constant and instantaneous questioning of the relevance of the roles which we are vetting is extremely disheartening”.

“We are now being frustrated and queries by the [bureau] for applying the same logic and reasoning which has applied for the last seven years.”

Marked change

The department noted that “there has been a marked change” in the recent past and “the clipped nature of dialogue to us” has been considerable.

“A resolution to the current impasse needs to be found,” it said.

In a letter sent by the bureau on July 18th, Supt Niall Featherstone said a new compliance unit had recently been set up in the bureau.

“One of the procedures conducted by the compliance unit is to examine and interrogate the roles being submitted by organisations,” he said.

“It is an important and necessary function of the compliance unit to ensure that only persons conducting relevant work or activities are subjected to the vetting process. There is no legal basis for vetting persons that are not conducting relevant work or activities.”

He said the bureau wants a “relevancy assessment” for the various roles being submitted by the department for vetting.

Asked about the matter last night, a Garda spokesman said that, in general, “Garda vetting is conducted in respect of any person who is carrying out work or activity, a necessary and regular part of which consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with, children or vulnerable persons”.