Inordinate Garda vetting delays being experienced by school bus operators is delaying the recruitment of drivers, according to the Coach Tourism & Transport Council (CTTC), the representative body for Ireland’s private bus operators. Furthermore, the group has highlighted the fact that the vetting procedure needs to be streamlined so vetting approval applies in all scenarios in order to make the system efficient.
The CTTC has said that the current Garda vetting process remains broken despite many reassurances given by successive Ministers for Justice to fix it. Ireland’s private bus operators are responsible for carrying 90% of all school transport passengers.
Commenting on the issue, John Halpenny CTTC Chairman said: “Currently, school bus drivers are being unfairly delayed from taking up employment, sometimes by up to 10 weeks, due to the congestion in the vetting process. This situation is only exacerbated by the fact that if a driver is already vetted for a particular geographical area, he/she also has to be re-vetted in another area. This is unnecessary duplication and is frankly, a waste of time and resources for everyone involved.”
“While we fully accept the primary focus of the Garda National Vetting Bureau is to enhance the safety of children and vulnerable adults, more needs to be done to alleviate the lengthy waiting times currently being endured by school bus operators. However, it is also producing systematic failure because on the one hand you have Bus Eireann seeking extra buses for school runs and then you have a vetting process that is not fit for purpose where it is taking weeks for drivers to get clearance.”
“There is an urgent need for reform of the entire system so that a more streamlined version of Garda vetting is created, perhaps where a vetting licence much like a driving licence is issued, and where it can be renewed after a pre-determined number of years. And if an issue were to arise with the person who has been vetted, the vetting licence can be revoked forthwith.”
“The processing system for vetting works against the smooth operation of Ireland national transport provision and the CTTC is calling on the Minister for Justice, Ms. Helen McEntee and Minister Norma Foley to intervene, deal with a problem that continues to endure end the eradicate the unnecessary delays currently being endured by school bus operators.”