Fórsa moves to address concerns over Garda vetting process
by Andy Pike, Head of Education, Fórsa

*Special bulletin for SNA members Friday 3rd April 2020*


As part of the Government mobilisation against Covid-19 all SNAs have been asked to fill in a survey form sent to them by the Public Appointments Service (PAS). The next phase of the process is that staff must be Garda vetted, this is being carried out by a recruitment agency called TTM. Garda vetting forms have been sent out to SNAs for completion.


The forms state that SNAs are being vetted to work as healthcare assistants. This appears to be an administrative measure and does not signify an intention to actually reassign SNAs as healthcare assistants. The recruitment firm TTM supply certain grades of staff to the HSE such as clerical officers, nurses and healthcare assistants, therefore the designation enables TTM to process the forms efficiently but does not signify in any way that the HSE itself intends to reassign SNAs as healthcare assistants.


Fórsa has been in contact with Paul Reid, CEO of the HSE this evening to request that clarification is sent out to all SNAs who received their Garda vetting form that there is no intention to reassign them as healthcare assistants. Mr Reid has committed to working with Fórsa over the weekend to provide clarification on Monday (6th April).


We remind members that the Department of Education and Skills has confirmed that SNAs will be asked to work remotely with their allocated students. This was confirmed in written correspondence sent to the Fórsa General Secretary on Wednesday 1st April by Ms Aoife Conduit, Assistant Secretary General, Education Sector Employment at the DES in which she stated:

“The Department has been made aware of concerns that may be raised in some quarters in relation to the assignment process announced today, specifically that SNAs in being temporarily assigned to other posts in the coming period may be required to take on nursing roles or may be assigned into services for adults. Please accept my immediate assurance on behalf of the Department that we have agreed with the HSE that the arrangements announced today are designed to facilitate the assignment of SNAs where required into community services for children with a disability and we have also indicated that SNAs may be asked to provide remote supports to families of children they are familiar with. This position is clearly set out in all documentation that has issued from this Department. Alteration to the current arrangements set out in that documentation will not be considered without further engagement and discussion with Fórsa.”


Under normal circumstances the details of such correspondence would not be circulated, however given the level of concern on this issue it is appropriate to relay to members the nature of the assurances given by the Department.


I appreciate this is a very worrying and uncertain time for all SNAs. The Garda vetting procedure has nothing to do with the role requested of SNAs within the Children’s Disability Service. We encourage our members to co-operate with this vital reassignment process to provide support to SEN students and their families during the school closure period. I am confident that the assurances given by the DES are accurate and genuine.


If it ever were to emerge that SNAs were to be asked to work as healthcare assistants Fórsa will intervene to call a halt to this process. Whilst every SNA is willing to play a part in the Covid-19 effort, we will ensure that our members are not reassigned into jobs for which they are not qualified and not trained. We have given members that very clear commitment and we will stand over it.

Andy Pike, Fórsa Head of Education

Friday 3rd April 2020

The union is now geared up to intervene to resolve problems if inappropriate work is assigned to an SNA. Fórsa members can contact their branch representative or email the union HERE.


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