Gardaí do not believe vetting required for people offering homes to fleeing Ukrainians

Unaccompanied children likely to fall under remit of Tusla rather than be taken in by public

Gardaí do not believe that people offering to take Ukrainian refugees into their homes will need to be vetted but say the vetting bureau could cope with extra applications arising in response to the crisis.

The bureau experienced a surge in requests in the first weeks of the year as the economy returned to normality after the pandemic and an enhanced vetting system for the aviation sector across the EU became operational.

However, Garda sources believe the service could cope if additional applications were made due to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

“The legislation is very specific about who we can and can’t vet,” said one source. “And even if a policy decision was made somewhere that anyone offering accommodation to Ukrainians should be vetted, the legislation wouldn’t actually allow that.


“So the numbers of people that we may have to vet for this would be very small. Vetting only applies to people coming into contact with children whose parents are not present and with vulnerable adults.”

More than 6,000 people in Ireland had by Tuesday afternoon offered to take in Ukrainian refugees. This raised the prospect that some of those offering to share their homes may have to be vetted by gardaí before their offers of accommodation were accepted.

Gardaí said that while any such requirement would put pressure on the vetting bureau, it was adept at working through spikes in applications and minimising waiting times.

Temporary protection

Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman said a specialist unit was being established to meet refugees from Ukraine as they arrive at Irish airports and ports. Each new arrival would be given a letter stating they are in the State under the EU’s temporary protection.

Furthermore, they would also be provided a PPS number and granted the right to work.

Mr O’Gorman said on Tuesday that a system of inspecting the suitability of the accommodation being offered would be put in place. However, he declined to say if Garda vetting would be required for those offering to share their homes with people coming from Ukraine.

Garda members who spoke to The Irish Times did not believe people offering to share their homes with adult Ukrainians or refugees and their children would need to be vetted.

Furthermore, they believed it was likely any unaccompanied children would fall under the remit of the child and family agency, Tusla, and because of that it was unlikely large numbers offering their homes would need vetting.

Final say

The same sources stressed the Government would have the final say on vetting procedures and that the Garda would be obliged to facilitate whatever decisions were made.

On average, 87 per cent of all vetting applications result in no red flags being raised when the applicants are checked by gardaí, including searches for previous convictions.

In just 3 per cent of cases past convictions were disclosed, while the remaining 10 per cent of applications required further checks before the applicants could be approved, or rejected, for working with minors or vulnerable adults.

In January some 44,662 applications for Garda vetting were made. That was the second highest monthly total since the start of 2020.

Garda headquarters said the majority of applications were turned around in up to eight working days. Some 32,041 applications were completed in January.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times