ROI Child Safeguarding



Best safeguarding practice by the Church in respect of convicted child sex offenders requires that they should not hold representational roles as this can be perceived to convey a position of authority by other members of the Church, both children and adults.  This can be particularly sensitive and potentially hurtful for anyone who has been harmed by a sex offender.

An individual who has been the victim of a sexual offence may have to manage lifelong consequences arising from that harm and their needs should be prioritised.  It is therefore regarded as inappropriate that someone with a conviction for a sexual offence would hold any role on a decision making body in the Diocese or in Church leadership of any sort, even when that role does not involve contact with children.

Good recruitment, selection and management procedures will:

  • help screen out and discourage those who are not suitable to work with or have access
    to children and, if necessary, ensure as far as reasonably practicable that they do not have access to children;
  • ensure staff and volunteers have clear rules and boundaries and feel supported in their roles;
  • assure parents/guardians that all possible measures are being taken to ensure only suitable
    people will be recruited to work with children.


Recruitment and selection procedures must be applied equally to all staff and volunteers and this includes:

  • those who have been part of the parish/diocese for many years and are taking up a new role with children.
  • those who turn 18 and have become staff members or volunteers in a group they have been participants.
  • those who are 16 or 17 and wish to continue as helpers or take up a role as a helper in a group.
    The process is the same for both volunteers and staff, but the process will be more formal for the latter. The following steps should be undertaken by the panel and are necessary to ensure good practice:

A role description should be drawn up for each role and given to all volunteers. This can be done generically for volunteer roles within the parish/diocese/organisation. For a staff role a specific job description should be created.

All applicants must be asked to complete an application form. The application form may be more
extensive for a staff position than a volunteer position.

All applicants whether volunteers or staff are required to sign a declaration stating that there is no reason why they would be considered unsuitable to work with children. All applicants will be required to declare any past criminal convictions and cases pending against them. All applicants deemed suitable at interview will be required to complete a Garda Vetting invitation form.


All potential staff and volunteers will be interviewed by the panel sometimes in conjunction with other relevant individuals such as the leader-in-charge. The level of formality of the interview should reflect the role being undertaken. An interview for a volunteer may be fairly informal; however, an interview for a member of staff should be more formal and comply with Employment Equality Acts 1998-2015.


References should be taken up from at least two people who are not family members and, ideally, one of whom should have first-hand knowledge of the applicant’s previous work or contact with children. References should be taken up in writing and should be followed up orally.


A willingness to participate in the Garda vetting process is a compulsory requirement for all posts and a willingness to participate should be confirmed in writing as part of the application procedure.

As this process can change, the panel should follow the latest procedure outlined on the Safeguarding Trust section of the Church of Ireland website. (

Further information is also available on the National Vetting Bureau website Identification documents should be requested in line with Garda vetting requirements and copies should be kept on the individual’s file.

On receipt of the vetting disclosure the panel should assess the information contained therein to inform their decision as to whether to appoint the individual or not.

All staff and volunteers should be subject to re-vetting in line with the Guidance on Garda Vetting procedures


Details of the selection and recruitment procedure should be recorded and securely stored as per data protection regulations (see General Data Protection Regulations and Safeguarding guidelines).


At the conclusion of the selection and recruitment process the panel recommends the individuals to the select vestry which is the appropriate body to ratify the appointment of the individual. A contract of employment (in the case of a member of staff) or a volunteer agreement (in the case of a volunteer) is signed by the individual and incumbent on behalf of the select vestry. The volunteer agreement may take the form of a letter of appointment. A contract of employment with a member of staff should be drawn up by legal / human resources professionals.

When ratifying the appointment, it may also be helpful to indicate a particular duration for the role, say three to five years.

Please note that a member of staff or volunteer cannot begin their work until a vetting disclosure has been received from the National Vetting Bureau and it has been assessed by the panel. This also applies to clergy and a vetting disclosure must have been received and assessed prior to ordination, institution to an incumbency or other charge or granted a licence to officiate.


Full background checks may not be possible for many overseas applicants. Staff and volunteers from abroad may produce certificates of good conduct from their home church or statutory agencies
in their country of origin. Such certificates must be treated with extreme caution as it may not be possible to confirm their validity. As with any other criminal conviction disclosure, it can only provide ‘known’ information.

Panels must make every effort to verify the suitability of candidates by careful use of references and interview. NB Something which constitutes an offence in Ireland (and would be seen as child abuse) may not in the country of the home church. References therefore need to be viewed with this in mind. However, any child abuse allegations, reports and concerns must be viewed in the context of whether same would constitute an offence in this jurisdiction.

The vetting legislation provides that a vetting disclosure must be obtained in respect of all staff and volunteers undertaking relevant work and this includes individuals from outside the State that have never resided in the State. However, as the National Vetting Bureau does not conduct vetting in relation to addresses outside of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, in instances where an applicant discloses foreign addresses, the applicant will be required to complete a Worker from Abroad form (see Part 8 – Appendices) and self-declare convictions, if any, while residing abroad. This will be in addition to obtaining a vetting disclosure for that person.


Good management of volunteers and staff will contribute to safe activities for children. Good management will also create an atmosphere where staff or volunteers feel valued, are listened to and where issues can be dealt with quickly by systems already in place.

Effective management for all staff and volunteers should include:


New staff and volunteers must be provided with a copy of the Safeguarding Trust policy by the panel. The leader in charge of the group should explain the procedures and guidelines contained therein and outline the activities and ethos of the group they have joined. Staff and volunteers should be made aware of what is expected and required of them and the boundaries or limits within which they must operate.


New staff and volunteers should attend Safeguarding Trust training for New Staff and Volunteers, provided by the diocesan support team, which provides basic awareness and understanding of child protection issues, at the earliest opportunity after their appointment. Following completion of their Safeguarding Trust training, the panel shall require all staff and volunteers to complete the Declaration of Acceptance (see Part 8 – Appendices).

The panel should keep a record of all trainings attended by staff and volunteers and ensure that staff, volunteers and panel members comply with the training requirements set out in their Diocesan Safeguarding Trust Training Strategy which includes the following levels of training:

  • New Staff and Volunteers (Basic Awareness training)
  • Panel Training (Designated Liaison Person training)
  • Junior Helper Training
  • Refresher Training.

All appointments should be conditional on a satisfactory period of work. Every new post should be reviewed by the panel within an agreed period – usually six months.

It is good practice to set up a supervision system for staff and volunteers, which means arranging to see staff and volunteers at regular intervals whether on their own or in small groups. This provides support for staff and volunteers and provides an opportunity to talk through any questions or difficulties they may have. It also gives the supervisor the opportunity to assess progress and whether any additional training should be provided. Each panel will determine who the appropriate person/people will be to supervise staff and volunteers. The panel should meet the leaders in charge of groups once a year to review practices within the children’s groups in the parish (see Part 8 – Appendices).

The annual appraisal/review should be undertaken by the person appointed to supervise the
staff member/volunteer. The purpose of this is to review general performance and provide the opportunity to discuss any relevant changes in the personal circumstances of staff and volunteers. The appraisal/ review also provides the opportunity to highlight any required future support or skills training. Access should be provided to at least one training or development opportunity per year for each member of staff or volunteer.


Every staff member and volunteer have the right to report a grievance and so staff and volunteers should be facilitated in raising a grievance. The grievance procedure aims to deal in a fair, prompt and impartial manner with the grievances of individual volunteers in relation to their role or duties.

Panels should ensure that written grievance procedures (see template in Part 8 – Appendices) are put in place, adopted by the select vestry and communicated to all volunteers. A grievance procedure should be included within the contract of employment of all staff.


Junior Helpers can be used in groups to assist staff and volunteers to provide children’s activities. However, it is never appropriate to require someone aged less than 18 years to take on the role of leader or be in sole charge of children as this would mean leaving a child in charge of children. At least two staff members or volunteers should be in charge of any group of children. Permission from the panel must be sought by the leader-in-charge of a group before any under 18s are involved in such a role.

If under 16s are helping to gain expertise, citizenship development, personal or professional development, they should not be expected to take on the full range of duties of a member of staff or volunteer or be left in sole charge of children, they will not be permitted to submit a Garda Vetting check until the age of 16. At the age of 16, or if engaged to become a Junior Helper between the age of 16 – 18, they should have Garda Vetting carried out in line with the latest Garda Vetting procedures outlined on the Safeguarding Trust section of the Church of Ireland website:

Any 16 and 17 year olds wishing to help with groups should complete Garda Vetting prior to starting to work with children. Please note that signed parental or guardian consent for such Garda Vetting
is a prerequisite to such vetting being carried and should therefore be obtained from the proposed Junior Helper’s parents or guardian.

When under 18s working with children turn 18 and wish to take up a leadership role, they should complete the remaining parts of the recruitment process to undertake the leadership role, however if they have been in constant contact with the group they do not need to repeat Garda Vetting unless they are due for re-vetting in line with the Guidance on Garda Vetting Procedures.

Under 18s must be provided with an appropriate form of induction training to cope with basic areas, such as bullying, shouting, physical contact, emergency procedures and first-aid policy. Such training must also include the need to safeguard themselves in situations where their actions may be misconstrued, without undergoing the full training required of core leadership. The panel should ensure such induction training is provided and the leadership of the group should ensure compliance with these standards. The panel should ensure that Under 18s assisting with groups also complete Junior Helper Safeguarding Trust training.

It is essential that those aged under 18 years also work at all times under those who have been trained to implement Safeguarding Trust.