Loophole in law for vetting bus drivers must be closed - Tully

Anomaly confirmed through a parliamentary question.

Drivers who are employed to do school bus runs independently are not Garda vetted, it has emerged.

Drivers employed by Bus Éireann to operate school bus runs by the Department of Education are subject to garda vetting. However, drivers employed by private bus companies contracted by parents in communities to meet a shortfall in school run provision are not included.

Deputy Pauline Tully confirmed the anomaly through a parliamentary question submitted to the Minister for Justice. The local TD is concerned by the vetting shortfall and suspects parents whose children travel to school on private transport assume the driver must be garda vetted.

“From speaking to parents many presume bus drivers who may be driving children and young people to school or matches or on tours are vetted, which is not the case. Anyone who drives directly or indirectly for Bus Eireann are vetted,” explains Deputy Tully.

Deputy Tully is now seeking an amendment to the relevant 'National Vetting Bureau' legislation to ensure that drivers in such cases come under the remit of the Garda National Vetting Bureau.

Deputy Tully adds that the change in law was needed as “older or vulnerable adults should feel safe also”.

Responding to Deputy Pauline Tully, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee began by outlining Bus Éireann staff working as dedicated school bus drivers are vetted.

The minister added: “Where Bus Éireann award contracts to private bus operators for the provision of school bus services around the country, the drivers employed by the private bus operators to drive the school buses are vetted by Bus Éireann.

“I am also advised by the Garda authorities that bus services organised by schools to take pupils to events, or bus services organised privately by parents in circumstances where Bus Éireann do not provide a school bus service, are outside the ambit of the National Vetting Bureau.”