This week we’re continuing our dive into the Irish National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 – 2016, having a look at section 31 and 32 that, collectively, deal with legacy vetting applications, and the fact that vetting may become a paid-for service in the future.
- Section 31 deals with what it calls the ‘Transitional Provision’.
- Section 32 deals with ‘Fees’ i.e. the ability for the Minister to charge for vetting and re-vetting.
Prior to the National Vetting Bureau coming to life in April 2016, applications for Irish vetting were made to the Garda Central Vetting Unit.
Section 31 – Transitional Provision – simply enabled the National Vetting Bureau to treat an application as if it had been made directly to the National Vetting Bureau.
The text in red in Section 31(1) was inserted (29.04.2016) by Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 (4/2016), s. 25(a), (c), S.I. No. 215 of 2016 (see Law Reform Revised Acts).
The text in red in Section 31(2) was inserted by the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 (4/2016), s.25(b), S.I. No. 215 of 2016.
Without this section, the Vetting Bureau would have had its hands tied and been unable to deal with ‘legacy’ vetting applications, which would have therefore fallen into the equivalent of a legal land of limbo.
Section 32 of the vetting legislation allows the Minister to charge a fee to:
- an organisation looking to register with the National Vetting Bureau;
- for a person applying for a vetting disclosuse
- for a person applying for a re-vetting disclosure
- for a person applying for a retrospective vetting disclosure
Innocuous though this section looks, there’s a solid public policy argument underpinning it, which goes to the heart of the integrity of the vetting system.
Part of the significant lack of confidence in the vetting process over the last few years in Ireland, has been the chronic underfunding of the system, such that the turn-around times were embarrassingly long.
With the advent of the e-vetting portal, the delays have, in most sectors, decreased significantly.
However, anecdotal evidence suggests the delay are still far too long.
At the end of the day, money talks, and it’s likely that at some point the Minister will pull the trigger on Section 32, enabling the Bureau to offset some of the processing costs, by charging for vetting in its various forms.
Quite what this will look like remains to be seen. It may be that ‘relevant organisations’ are charged, but actual volunteers aren’t charged. Or that people seeking a vetting disclosure for a commercial position are charged a fee – but for a voluntary position they aren’t (this would be a case of the for-profit sector subsidizing the not-for-profit vetting applications).
Organisations processing vetting applications often juggle several different scenarios.
They may have to deal with new vetting applications.
They may have to deal with retrospective vetting applications.
They may have to deal with re-vetting of people.
Section 31 allows them to deal with them seamlessly in terms of legacy applications made under the old Garda Central Vetting Unit.
At the same time, economic realities are going to become an increasing part of the vetting ecosystem that is the National Vetting Bureau. Section 32 specifically reserves the right of the Bureau (under the guidance of the Minister) to commence charging for the provision of services.
While it’s reasonable to assume that there could be some ‘pushback’ on this in some quarters, the reality is that it’s likely to further improve an already improved public service, ensuring those who can pay, do pay, and those who can’t, aren’t disadvantaged economically.
This essay is for general information and guidance purposes only and, just to be clear, does not constitute legal or other professional advice.
You should always seek your own specific legal advice, from a firm of solicitors, on the application of the law in a situation.
Whilst we used reasonable endeavours to ensure the accuracy of this content, we do not accept any liability for any omissions or errors; or for any action taken in reliance of the information in this essay.