The “Town Guard” are watching you

I was unsure as to whether we needed to be get Garda Vetting in order to run this club. Particularly to run games with an adult DM with teen players, or a mixture of teen and adult players.

So I emailed the National Vetting Bureau and asked them. They replied with an actual physical letter which contained a form and many definitions, including the following, which I thought may or may not apply.

“Any work or activity which consists of the provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities (whether or not for commercial or any other consideration) to children unless the provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities is merely incidental to the provision of educational, training, cultural, recreational, leisure, social or physical activities to persons who are not children.”

National Vetting Bureau, Schedule 1, Part 1

I pondered it and reread it and pondered some more. We were definitely providing recreational, leisure and social activities. There is a strong case for saying that we are providing cultural activities, since D&D is certainly weaseling it’s way into the collective subconscious, however that doesn’t really matter right now. What mattered I thought was what exactly from a legal viewpoint does “merely incidental” mean? Does this mean that it would happen regardless of whether there were teens there or not? Well maybe, but to be honest we are setting up the weekend meetings so that teens can play. So from a normal point of view it is not “incidental” that we would be running the weekend games. But it might be incidental in the light of the overall club which runs games regardless of whether there are teens there. In fact teens are excluded from our other games due to the time/location. But in short I was confused. So I rang the National Vetting Bureau, it’s their paragraph after all. They were very pleasant and understanding but they could not advise as to whether or not that paragraph, or any other applied. They are not allowed to advise about relevance, that is up to the organisation.

Somewhere inside me my evil DM hat asked why would an organisation intent on harming children register itself? This all seemed pretty silly to me. Surely an organisation should be obliged to register but I’m only a citizen and parent in this country, what do I know?!

Agghhh. I just want to run D&D and kill people! I mean I just want to engage people in exciting adventures wherein they may or may not meet a bunch of imaginary goblins or some such intent on killing their imaginary characters. Of course I want to do it right and I want any young people involved to be safe and for their parents to know they are safe. Also I want any adults involved to likewise be protected from any spurious accusations. So it sounds like I want Garda vetting, or at least to be on the other side, the safe side, of this minefield. I just don’t want to walk through the minefield to get there.

I needed legal advice. And by lucky coincidence the person helping me to find the weekend location is a lawyer. He said yes, we need to vet the DMs. And given that the lawyer in question is a partner in a senior law firm here in Cork, I think I should follow the advice. So, as they say on all the mediocre US TV shows, “on the advice of counsel” we need to register the club as a “relevant organisation”. It’s a good idea anyway. D&D is a great game with great benefits for young people, but way back in the eighties it was accused of all sorts of strange things and those unfounded and disproved accusations linger in the minds of some. You can read about them here, they may seem funny now, but back in the day they were quite serious.

I have filled in the “Application for registration as a Relevant Organisation with the National Vetting Bureau” form and will post it off today. Once the club is registered, I will then apply to be vetted and all adult DMs who wish to run a game at the weekend location will also need to be vetted. Teens who wish to run teen only games will be fine I presume, as long as there is a vetted adult supervising the overall session. But I’ll check that presumption.

How long will all this take? Here, have some string.

TLDR: All adult DMs who play at the weekend games will have to be Garda vetted.


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