Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has told the Dáil that 10 staff on temporary contracts in the Garda Vetting Unit in Thurles are not being replaced by interns from the JobBridge Scheme.

During a Topical Issues debate, Independent Michael Lowry said the staff were hired to tackle the huge backlog in the unit, dealing with personal information with discretion.

Deputy Lowry said they have dealt with a staggering workload and have succeeded in reducing the waiting time from 16 weeks to four weeks.

Mr Lowry said replacing these staff with interns is despicable. He said workers feel aggrieved and feel they are being replaced by a cheaper alternative.

He said it was highly questionable that experienced, trained staff are being let go, while inexperienced people with no training are being taken on.

Minister Alan Shatter said that he wanted to make it clear that the offer of placements to interns is for no other purpose than what the scheme was intended. He said any suggestion that they are being hired to replace staff who were on a temporary contract is not true.

Mr Shatter said discussions in relation to the contracts are ongoing, adding that it would be inappropriate to comment further. He did say, however, that he is hopeful of a satisfactory outcome for all involved.