Tuesday 12 December 2017

Vulnerable 'left open to abuse' by vetting flaw

Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Damien Eagers
Frances Fitzgerald Photo: Damien Eagers
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Criminals who secured convictions in other jurisdictions are being allowed access to children and other vulnerable groups because of a loophole in vetting procedures, Fianna Fáil has warned.

Laois TD Seán Fleming last night said he is deeply concerned by a response he received from Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald in relation to the rules surrounding vetting.

"The system at present leaves it wide open to abuse," Mr Fleming told the Irish Independent.

In the letter, seen by the Irish Independent, Ms Fitzgerald confirmed that gardaí do not vet applicants who have been convicted outside of the Republic or the North.

Ms Fitzgerald said: "I am informed by the Garda Authorities that the National Vetting Bureau conducts vetting checks in respect of the information held in the criminal database in this jurisdiction.

"The National Vetting Bureau also has in place a reciprocal arrangement with the Police Service of Northern Ireland in respect of addresses in Northern Ireland which are held or have been held by vetting applicants.

"The National Vetting Bureau does not make any requirements of vetting applicants to provide evidence of criminal records from any other jurisdiction."

Last night, Mr Fleming expressed deep concern that criminals could be able to secure jobs that give them direct access to children or elderly people.

He said that the law surrounding vetting must be made more robust.

"There is clearly no mechanism to vet people who have lived in other jurisdictions and who have come to reside in Ireland," he said.

"From the public's perspective, there is a general understanding that if someone gets Garda vetting, then they are suitable to take up their new roles. That is clearly not the case. At the very minimum Interpol should be consulted."

Irish Independent

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