Fianna Fáil has urged the Justice Minister Alan Shatter to reconsider the party’s proposal to include professional childminders in the garda vetting process.
Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins expressed his frustration at the Minister’s refusal to consider a Fianna Fáil amendment to the recent Garda Vetting Bill requiring professional child-minders go through the garda vetting process.
Deputy Collins said, “There is currently no regulation of professional child-minders in this country. While it is not feasible to vet babysitters and those who look after children on a casual basis, it is clear that we need some regulation of the up to 30,000 professional child-minders in the state.
“At a time when we are campaigning to enhance the rights of children and improve our child protection system, it’s worrying that absolutely no checks are carried out on the tens of thousands of people employed to take care of children every day. If we vet teachers, school bus drivers, health workers, social workers, sports club staff, charity workers and so on, why are professional childminders who are trusted to care for children daily exempt from any checks?
“Vetting legislation must apply to everyone who works in the area of childcare, whether that is home or centre-based. Fianna Fáil submitted amendments to recent legislation on garda vetting to ensure that all those who have an employment contract to mind children and are in receipt of a regular wage are vetted by the gardaí. Unfortunately these proposals were rejected by Fine Gael and Labour.
“I am urging the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and his government to reconsider. They will have the full support of Fianna Fáil in establishing reasonable and workable regulation of the childminding sector. This would need to be introduced on a phased basis and should be accompanied by a public information campaign.
“The introduction of the National Vetting Bureau Bill and the heads of the Children First legislation provided the perfect opportunity to bring about some form of regulation for the childminding sector. Unfortunately, both Minister Shatter and Minister Fitzgerald did noy believe that child protection should apply to private childcare arrangements. If this Government is serious about child protection, then this needs to be urgently reviewed.”