I write to advise you of the new legal requirements that have come into effect in relation to the vetting of those who work with children in the GAA.
The National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts commenced on 29 April 2016 thus introducing the legal requirement that all GAA personnel who work with children and vulnerable adults shall be required to be vetted.
This measure has brought us in line with current practices in the Six Counties and with other European Countries.
When the Acts was commenced by the Minister for Justice the National Vetting Bureau, formerly known as the Garda Central Vetting Bureau, came into being.
1. Commencement of the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Acts
The commencement of the Act means that the GAA practice of vetting personnel who work with children as part of our voluntary good practice procedures has now become a mandatory requirement in law on the island of Ireland both North and South as and from 29 April 2016 given that it is already a legal requirement in the six counties.
In our case it is worth noting that should any person who has not been vetted, and who has not previously worked with children in the GAA, and who subsequently seeks on our behalf to work with children and or vulnerable adults after the Act commences they will be in breach of the law. Should we employ or recruit a person to do this work who has not been vetted we also will breaching the law.
What does the Act state in relation to vetting personnel e.g. coaches of underage teams
In accordance with the Act it is an offence if we fail to vet a GAA nominated person who subsequently works with children on our behalf. Section 12 of the Act prohibits the engagement of persons to do relevant work or activities relating to children or other vulnerable persons, unless that person has been subject to the vetting procedures under the Act.
Any person currently vetted by the GAA is covered under the Act as their vetting acceptance in essence transfers over under the new Act. For the purpose of clarification the National Vetting Bureau Act in GAA terms applies to any person who carries out a role of responsibility with an underage player i.e. a person who is under 18 yrs. of age. This also applies to any coach, manager, selector of a senior squad if that squad includes a person under 18 yrs. of age. The Act also covers those who work with vulnerable adults.
2. E-Vetting replacing paper vetting applications
On the commencement of the Act the National Vetting Bureau introduced E-Vetting or a system of applying on line for vetting. The piloting of E-Vetting by the National Vetting Bureau indicates that we can get turnaround times for the processing of vetting forms down to a few days rather than many weeks as experienced in the past. All interaction with the vetting applicant will, following completion of an initial identity verification form, be done via email.
As part of E-Vetting we will utilise the services of both our Club and County Children’s Officers to enable this to happen. For example identification verification of a person applying for vetting will be required at local level before the applicant can access the vetting form and submit it on to Croke Park for processing with the National Vetting Bureau.
3. E-Vetting new applicants
Four organisations have been chosen to commence the E-Vetting (on line vetting) of its members. The GAA as one of the four includes Handball and Rounders personnel in our vetting services but it does not, at this stage, include Ladies Gaelic Football or Camogie membership.
4. Re-vetting of current GAA personnel who have been previously vetted
To date the GAA has vetted almost 75,000 people through the Garda Central Vetting Bureau. Some of those vetted have by now been vetted for the second time and many of the 75,000 includes host family members for Féile na nGael and Féile Peile.
We will not commence the E-Vetting of persons previously vetted until later this year as it is not an immediate requirement of the Act. When the new E-Vetting structures have been fully tested and when necessary training at County level has taken place we will then announce the re-vetting of personnel in the GAA which will take place on a County by County basis. Each County will receive sufficient notice and an agreed timescale in which to complete the e-vetting of those who work with children in the GAA.
See below for guidance to address 2 frequently asked questions for those working with Children to include coaches, mentors and Club officials.
Q1.How do you contact underage players i.e under 18 years of age? Good practice guidance has always maintained that coaches must not text underage players, i.e. under 18 yrs of age, and must therefore communicate with them via a parent or guardian.
If a parent wishes that you as a coach text their child about training or matches they must indicate this in writing (Consent Form). Should parental permission be forthcoming, in writing, the coach may text the underage player but can only text them as part of an overall group text and NOT an individual text.
Coaches are not permitted to contact underage players on an individual basis and any such actions will be dealt with as a serious misdemeanour by the Association.
This directive re underage players applies to any player under 18 yrs of age, regardless of what Club or County team they play with.
Q2. Who requires Garda vetting? Any person working with children* or vulnerable adults on behalf of the GAA or on behalf of any of the clubs has to be vetted. This includes adults who act as trainers, managers, coaches etc of teams or those working with underage persons at Scór or other Association activities. Those vetted will include coaches, mentors, team managers, referees, Club officials and other personnel who work with children and young people.
Q3. How often do I need to be re-vetted? We understand that the re-vetting period will be 5 years for those who are E-Vetted. Those Vetted prior to April 2016will be notified prior tot he end of 2018to commence revetting.
Q4. Where can I get the Garda vetting application form? All vetting is now done online so please click GAA E-Vetting for all details.
Q5. How do I get Garda vetting for under age applicants? It is permissible to have persons aged 16 years and 18 years of age vetted by the GAA, but only with written parental consent.
For further information, please refer to Our Games Our Code – Code of Best Practice in Youth Sport when working with underage players.
Nothing herein should be construed as a representation by, or on behalf of, Longford GAA as to definitive interpretation of or as an authoritative interpretation of any law. Further information is available from the GAA at Croke Park in respect of this guide document.
*For the purpose of this document and in accordance with legislation relating to children in Ireland, a child/underage player in the GAA refers to any person Under 18 yrs of age.
For more information contact:
Marie O’Reilly Keenan
087 903 2887