Echo Letters: Is it time to share the garda vetting process results?

Open Letter to the Minister for Sport

Dear Minister for Sport,

Great to see that we have moved to an online system for garda vetting and that it is now a criminal offence not to comply with the legislation when working with children.

Having made great strides forward in how we administer and police working with children, could we now look at how efficient it is for the vast majority of people involved in juvenile sport who are impacted by this?

Garda vetting stock shot 13 October 2016

At present anyone who works with children has to be garda vetted via their National Association or Organisation.

There are many hardworking and talented sports coaches who can and do coach across multiple sports.

Many parents who get involved in coaching, managing or administering their children’s teams can be involved in soccer, GAA, athletics, rugby and many more.

In practice this means that coaches and parents can be asked to submit to garda vetting for multiple associations.

When you tell people ‘oh I am sorry your vetting for soccer doesn’t cover you for athletics’ they immediately ask why.

The standard answer provided is that for data protection reasons your details can’t be shared across multiple associations.

You would really have to still ask why. When the whole point is to protect children, surely sharing it would make sense, would it not?

Lets say we still can’t share it and the mystical answer of data protection continues to rule and many parents get put off coaching their child’s soccer, rugby, GAA or athletics team because they are tired of completing the same process.

That is also without noting that the garda vetting team must be wasting many hours approving multiple vetting forms for the same person.

How about we try it differently. What would be wrong in declaring that we operate a national garda vetting process which is administered through a single body which can hold all data on behalf of the national associations.

That single body could be Sport Ireland or maybe even your own Ministry?

Each coach or parent would submit a garda vetting form once only, to a single national body, indicating which sports they wish to coach in and they get vetted once, which is then revised every 3 years.

If each National Association maintains a Register of Coaches then we know who is entitled to coach in a particular sport, we know who has been vetted to coach by the Gardaí and we can share that information as the application is submitted via a single national body and not via multiple national associations.

It would have two main benefits. Firstly, it would eliminate performing the same activity multiple times which hampers the capacity of clubs to get more parents involved.

Secondly, it would eliminate the multiple occasions the Gardaí have to vet the same person.

Michael Ryan.
Chairman Rathcoole AC

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