Dáil Éireann - Volume 663 - 08 October, 2008
Written Answers. - Vetting Procedures.
Deputy Pat Rabbitte Deputy Pat Rabbitte
Deputy Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism if there is a national policy of registration and vetting of volunteers and workers within the arts and sports  environment similar to a Garda vetting process; if not, his plans to introduce such a scheme to ensure the protection of the young and vulnerable; if best practice amongst organisations who receive funding is considered; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33770/08]
Deputy Martin Cullen Deputy Martin Cullen
Deputy Martin Cullen: Garda vetting is an important component of good recruitment practice. Good recruitment practice, in turn, forms one element of an organisation’s overall Child Protection Policy. Arts & Sports organisations come within the remit of the existing Garda vetting process managed by the Garda Central Vetting Unit. There is, therefore, no separate arrangement for access to vetting by Arts and Sports organisations.
The Arts Council’s approach to this matter is informed by its Children First guidelines. However, the procedure which requires organisations to have a through-put of in excess of 200 job applications per year effectively excludes most arts organisations funded by the Arts Council from direct access to the vetting process. The Arts Council has been working with the Garda Central Vetting Unit to try and address this issue. To date three arts organisations are registered as ‘authorised signatory’ with the Garda Central Vetting Unit (Create, the National Association for Youth Drama and more recently, Poetry Ireland). These organisations facilitate their own sectors/membership (community arts in the case of Create; youth theatres in the case of NAYD; writers in the case of Poetry Ireland). The Arts Council has an interim arrangement with the National Youth Council of Ireland for vetting the Council’s own designated staff [currently the Council’s Young People Children and Education (YPCE) Team, Advisers and HR personnel]. This is an interim measure and, for obvious reasons, NYCI can only offer this facility to the YPCE staff, not the entire organisation and certainly not to the arts sector at large. Comprehensive access to vetting by arts organisations is a matter currently under consideration.
In addition, in 2007 my Department wrote to all of the National Cultural Institutions under its aegis to reinforce the necessity for appropriate recruitment policies and vetting checks where contact with young people was concerned.
The Irish Sports Council (ISC), which is funded by my Department, has a statutory role in the promotion and development of sport. In that context the ISC provides funding and support to National Governing Bodies (NGBs) of sport.
The Irish Sports Council and the Sports Council for Northern Ireland (now Sport NI) published a joint Code of Ethics and Good Practice for Children’s Sport in 2000. A review of the Code was carried out in 2005 and the Code updated. The Code ensures that the policies and procedures that are implemented at all levels in sport are up-to-date and in line with relevant documents, current best practice and legislation throughout the island of Ireland.
The Code has been adopted and implemented by NGBs, local sports partnerships and community/voluntary groups on an on-going basis since 2000. Compliance with the Code of Ethics is one of the criteria for ISC NGB eligibility.
With specific reference to Garda vetting the ISC is represented on the Implementation Group on Garda Vetting and, with the approval of the Group, is rolling out Garda vetting on a phased basis to its NGBs, At present, 25 NGBs are registered with the Garda Central Vetting Unit and are in receipt of vetting. Another 10 NGBs have registered but are still awaiting training and 27 NGBs have yet to commence the registration process.
The Irish Sports Council notifies the Garda Central Vetting Unit when an NGB is in a position to apply for registration with the unit and of the person nominated in the organisation to manage the process. The Garda Central Vetting Unit then liaises with the nominated person in the NGB and the registration process is commenced. On registration, Authorised Signatories  are trained in the NGB concerned and the Garda Vetting service is then extended to that Organisation.
Each NGB is responsible for how they roll-out the vetting process within their organisation.
Dáil Éireann 663 Written Answers. Vetting Procedures.