Dublin Institute of Technology’s new Garda vetting policy for prospective Access Foundation Programme (AFP) students came under heavy scrutiny in both the Dáil and the Seanad yesterday.
Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett of People Before Profit Alliance, and Senators Lynn Ruane and John Dolan spoke vehemently against the decision to Garda vet prospective AFP students.
Garda vetting is not an application requirement for either DCU or Trinity’s Access programmes.
Deputy Boyd Barrett said, “access programmes are specific programmes to allow students from disadvantaged backgrounds to go on to third level education, but now if you are from a disadvantaged community as a matter of course you will be Garda vetted.
“Students who are victims of that [Garda vetting] should be able to take legal action against DIT because it is denying them according to international college covenant is that higher education is to be made equally accessible to all on the basis of capacity,” he added.
Both Deputy and Senators all stated to their respective Houses that they think this new policy is discriminatory, with Senator John Dolan saying, “there needs to be an immediate halt to this approach and a rethink”.
Senator Ruane said, “What is happening is alarming and discriminating. DIT is singling out a cohort of students and determining, for some reason, that they need to be Garda vetted.”
“If I were telling the House that a group of Travellers or non-nationals had been singled-out for Garda vetting, members would be saying it was racist and discriminatory. However, because this involves class discrimination, the matter is not receiving the attention it deserves,” added Senator Ruane.
While Senator John Dolan had great regard for DIT, having been a past student himself, he said “that one needs to have Garda clearance to go into these programmes is to start off with a stigma”.
He also went on to ask the House would international students who study the same course programme as AFP, and young matures, be Garda vetted also