39. Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick asked the Minister for Education and Skills when he plans to resolve the deficiencies in the vetting regime for special needs assistants in view of the difficulties this is causing for children with special education needs and their families; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 14275/18 asked on 29 Mar 2018)

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Richard Bruton): In April 2016, my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality commenced the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 (the Vetting Act) which put in place statutory requirements for the Garda vetting of persons involved in working with children and vulnerable persons.

The Vetting Act applies not just to schools but to any relevant organisation that employs, contracts, permits or places a person in relevant work with children or vulnerable persons.  

The vetting legislation and the vetting procedures operated by the National Vetting Bureau fall within the remit of the Minister for Justice and Equality.  However, when the statutory vetting requirements were commenced my Department issued circular 0031/2016 which set out the statutory vetting requirements applicable to schools along with the practical arrangements in place to support the vetting procedures. 

The circular outlines that the Vetting Act allows for some limited exemptions to the requirement under Section 12(1) of the Act to obtain a vetting disclosure from the National Vetting Bureau prior to commencing an employment, including in certain circumstances in the case of persons such as SNAs undertaking recurring substitute employment in a particular school.

A Frequently Asked Questions document was also published by my Department to assist schools with queries in respect of the circular.