Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Road Traffic Offences
412. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if he will address a matter regarding convictions for drink-driving (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3457/20]
First, it is important to be clear that vetting applications are processed by An Garda Síochána in accordance with the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts 2012 to 2016 and other relevant legislation, including the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016. Within An Garda Síochána, the National Vetting Bureau processes applications made in accordance with the law. Neither I as Minister for Justice and Equality nor my Department has any role in the processing of individual vetting applications.
The primary purpose of employment vetting carried out by the National Vetting Bureau is to seek to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults. I am certain the Deputy will agree this is a very important task which must be done thoroughly and correctly.
I understand that any relevant disclosures made by the Garda National Vetting Bureau are issued to relevant organisations and contain particular details of the criminal record of the subject of the vetting application. The vetting process is not considered as 'Garda Clearance'.
I am informed that An Garda Síochána has introduced an e-vetting system which facilitates the online processing of applications for vetting from registered organisations. I am further informed that individual applicants can track the process of their application online using the e-vetting tracking system, details of which are contained in the email received by applicants when completing their application online.
The Deputy may note that the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 provides that a person is not obliged to disclose certain convictions which are over seven years old, subject to certain specified limitations.
The 2016 Act also made a series of amendments to the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 in respect of the arrangements for the disclosure or otherwise of past convictions in the context of the vetting process. In particular, it inserted a new section 14A providing for non-disclosure of certain offences after a period of seven years. These provisions are applied by the National Vetting Bureau in its work.
It is important to note that the fact that a conviction may be a spent conviction does not mean it ceases to be part of the person's criminal record. Rather, if the conviction is eligible to be spent, a person will not be penalised in law or incur any liability for failing to disclose a spent conviction. Finally, the Deputy may also wish to note that if a person applies for a position in certain specified bodies, such as An Garda Síochána or the Courts Service, they must disclose spent convictions. The list of bodies that a person must disclose spent convictions to is set out in Schedule 2 of the Act.
The person referred to by the Deputy may wish to contact the Garda National Vetting Bureau directly at Locall 1890 488488 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.