Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Education Averil Power has expressed her shock at revelations that there are still 42,000 teachers who have not been vetted by the gardaí.
The figures were revealed by the Teaching Council of Ireland at a meeting of the Oireachtas Education Committee today. The Council said the backlog is due to a lack of resources in the Garda Vetting Unit and in the Teaching Council.
“It will come as a complete shock to parents across the country that there are hundreds of thousands of children being taught by who have been vetted by the gardaí,” said Senator Power.
“The previous Government introduced mandatory garda vetting for all new teachers at a time when thousands of extra teachers were being hired. The intention was that priority would then be given to vetting teachers that were already in the system. The current Government has clearly failed to follow through on this.
“How can a Government which claims its priority is improving child protection allow such a disgraceful lapse in the vetting of our teachers? While Ministers frequently make solemn statements about their commitment to child protection, they are presiding over a regime where 42,000 teachers have not gone through the necessary vetting to check if they have any convictions or prosecutions against them.
“I am calling for an urgent statement from the Education Minister Ruairí Quinn and the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald about how they intend to address this very serious problem. Excuses about a lack of resources or pressure on the public finances are not good enough – this is about the safety of our children. We need a commitment from the Government that the resources will be provided to ensure that all teachers will be vetted by the gardaí as quickly and as thoroughly as possible.”