MORE than half of the country's teachers will have to be vetted by a national bureau under new legislation to protect children.
JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter has confirmed that 42,000 primary and secondary school teachers must be vetted because of new required clearance procedures.
Mr Shatter said pending the completion of this vetting process, all teachers will continue to be employed.
The vast majority of uncleared teachers have been working in the profession for a long time and many are coming towards the end of their service.
A total of 40,000 teachers vetted under the Children First Guidelines will not need clearance from the national bureau.
Mr Shatter was unable to provide a date for when the bureau will begin vetting the 42,000 teachers, even though the required legislation was introduced last year.
Mr Shatter said he is in "consultation with his colleagues to determine the appropriate dates for commencement of the various provisions in the act".
He was responding to claims from the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) conference that understaffed schools will be unable to hire teachers in the near future because of the new vetting procedures.
All new school staff have to be cleared by the national vetting bureau. Up to 20,000 individuals across a wide sector of society – including sport, youth and social clubs – who work with children and or vulnerable adults have registered with the new unit.
However, it is unknown how long it will take the national vetting bureau to secure clearance for anyone waiting to be vetted. TUI general secretary John MacGabhann said an absurd effect will follow unless Mr Shatter allows the vetting policy to be introduced in a phased manner that allows understaffed schools to make appointments.
"Whatever requires to be done legally to enable schools to make appointments when they need to make appointments has to be done now," he said.
Prior to the introduction of new legislation for the vetting of people working with children last year, vetting procedures across the country operated on a voluntary code.
Up to 300,000 vetting procedures are processed every year.
The national vetting bureau act makes it a crime not to comply with the legislation.