BY HELEN RIDDELL
TRANSITION Year students from Beara are developing a new garda vetting application process which they hope will cut down on waiting times.
The project, by pupils of Scoil Phobail Bhéara in Castletownbere, is part of the Young Social Innovators Programme, which enables young people to work on difficult social issues and come up with and implement new and innovative ideas for change.
School chaplain Marie Murphy, who has been working with the group, said the students came up with the idea as this is the first year that transition year students have had to be garda-vetted when they are undertaking work experience.
However, under the present system, there are significant delays with the process. ‘Some students who had applied for work experience placements in early September were unable to take them up until well into October, due to the delays. We’ve also heard of instances where people were delayed from taking up employment for up to three months, due to delays in the process, so that was one of other key reasons for undertaking this project.’
The students’ solution, says Marie, was to develop a database linked to the Garda Pulse system.
‘Their suggestion is that garda vetting applications can be applied for centrally, similar to the way you would apply for a driving licence. That way any updates, changes of address, new employment details etc, can be added immediately,’ explained Marie.
The group undertook an online survey, and plan to present the final project to Templemore Garda College. They also want to contact sporting organisations, such as the GAA, to ask them to endorse their project.
Three students from the group, Amy O’Shea, Michelagh Murphy and Killian Murphy, presented their project earlier this month at the Social Innovation Dragons Den event hosted by Young Social Innovators in Cork city. They impressed the panel of dragons with their idea and secured €700 for their campaign and also a mentor from a public relations and marketing company.
A garda spokesperson said they engage proactively with the transition year programme in secondary schools nationwide, and the Garda National Vetting Bureau is aware of this project and has been in contact with the school.
The group will now present their project to their peers and local communalities at a Young Social Innovators Speak Out event at City Hall in Cork next month.