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To vet or not to vet

  • Ireland
  • General


Where a relevant organisation employs, contracts or permits a person to undertake “relevant work or activities” in respect of children or vulnerable persons, the organisation must have the person vetted. This covers, among others, employees, contractors and volunteers.1

“Relevant work or activities” means any work or activity carried out by a person where a necessary and regular part of that work or activity consists mainly of the person having access to, or contact with, children or vulnerable persons.

Some important points to note:

  • the Act puts vetting on a statutory basis and failure to vet is a criminal offence with only limited exceptions
  • people employed/working in a relevant organisation must be vetted before commencing employment/ work
  • The National Vetting Bureau of An Garda Síochána (“NVB”) is now responsible for issuing statutory vetting disclosures
  • employees/others who were in place prior to 29 April 2016 do not have to be vetted, even if not previously vetted, however, retrospective vetting will be required
    by the end of 2017
  • unpaid volunteers who assist on an occasional basis and who are not involved in the coaching, mentoring, counselling, teaching or training of children or vulnerable persons do not need to be vetted
  • where a person is involved with two relevant organisations and the two organisations have entered a written agreement, this can be used as a defence to proceedings for failing to vet, if only one organisation has the person vetted
  • the Department of Education and Skills have issued guidance which states that HSE or TUSLA staff who visit schools in the course of their duties, Department
    Inspectors, NEPS psychologists, and psychologists visiting schools under the Department’s Scheme for the Commissioning of Psychological Assessments do
    not require vetting by the school it is important to be aware that vetting is not clearance. The school’s duty of care still applies. The Act is largely concerned with imposing criminal liability where there is a failure to vet. Organisations should therefore ensure that other safeguards are in place and it may very well be prudent to “vet” even if not required by the Act
  • provision is made for “soft/specified information”, defined as information other than criminal convictions which leads to a bona fide belief that a person poses a
    threat to children or to vulnerable people 
  • a person, including a volunteer, who refuses to be vetted cannot be appointed in any capacity. However, the Act does not apply to a person who assists
    occasionally and on a voluntary basis provided they are not involved in coaching, mentoring, counselling, teaching or training
  • some parts of the Act, such as the section on re-vetting, are not commenced



1The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 as amended by the Criminal Justice (Spent Convictions and Certain Disclosures) Act 2016 (the “Act”) came into force on 29 April 2016. Primary and Post primary schools should refer to Circular 0031/2016 which supersedes Circular 63/2010.


This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full terms and conditions on our website.

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