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Massive surge in garda screening for child helpers

THE numbers being vetted by gardai so that they can work for sports organisations increased four-fold last year.

The scheme is designed to ensure that vulnerable people, particularly children, are protected while in the care of adults.

New figures from the Department of Justice show that just 3,090 people were processed by the Garda Central Vetting Unit (GCVU) in 2008.

However, that figure rose sharply in 2009, with more than 12,700 people registering.

The GCVU conducts vetting on behalf of organisations which are registered with gardai and discloses details of all prosecutions, successful or not.

It is designed primarily to ensure that the sporting organisations have a full knowledge of who is working for them. In particular, it aims to prevent anyone with abuse convictions gaining access to children.


However, the organisation will also be made aware of any minor convictions for traffic or public disorder offences.

The procedure is now standard for most organisations and Justice Minister Dermot Ahern noted: "The GCVU does not make decisions as to the suitability of individual persons to be employed in either remunerated or voluntary positions in organisations.

"The responsibility for decision-making rests solely with the registered organisation."

As a result, there are no figures for the number of persons deemed unsuitable.

Part of the increase is thought to have been brought about the increased awareness of child protection brought about by studies such as the Murphy and Ryan reports on clerical sex abuse.

However, it is also thought that the recession and rising unemployment has led to more people volunteering.