Deputy Michael Lowry has called on the Government to immediately expand the Vetting Unit’s service and to give priority and first call on vacancies that arise to staff from North and South Tipperary County and Urban Councils who have expressed an interest in transferring to the Garda Vetting Unit in Tipperary town.
Deputy Lowry explained;
“Due to the amalgamation of North and South Tipperary County Councils there will be a rationalisation of services and a reduction in personnel employed by the Council. It is already clear that Councils under the new arrangement will have surplus staff. 33 council staff from both North and South Tipperary County Councils have conveyed an “expression of interest” to be redeployed to the Vetting Unit in Tipperary Town.
“These Council staff have given years of loyal and dedicated service. Due to reforms of the public service there is huge uncertainty and anxiety amongst civil servants currently employed by Councils. It is appropriate and imperative that these displaced staff should be given priority with first call on vacancies that arise in proximity to their existing employment base. I am aware that many civil servants in a similar position from neighbouring counties are interested in these positions. I have been in contact with Government Ministers and have had a number of consultations with key personnel in the relevant Government Departments to emphasise that an immediate decision should be taken to facilitate the staff from the Councils around Tipperary who would be happy to be moved and retrained for Vetting duties.”
“The headquarters for the Vetting Unit in Thurles is currently operating to almost full capacity. The other unit in Ennis is fully functional. The 25 redeployed staff from the Department of Agriculture to the new Tipperary Town unit are currently in specialised training. The offices are being prepared and fitted with the technology required for these sensitive files. The new unit in Tipperary town will be operational in early June.”
“The Vetting Unit at present is being crippled by mammoth demand. The diligent and dedicated staff in the Vetting Unit are making extraordinary efforts to cope. Despite their best efforts they simply cannot deal with the avalanche of applications being received.
“Delays of up to sixteen weeks are causing enormous difficulties and problems for community and voluntary organisation who are awaiting clearance.”
“Immediate action needs to be taken by the Government to assist existing staff by expanding the work force to bring the backlog under control and the waiting times down to a reasonable level.”