Thursday, 3 June 2021
Ceisteanna Eile - Other Questions
An Garda Síochána
125. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the actions that will be taken to increase diversity within An Garda Síochána in line with the programme for Government commitment; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29601/21]
I welcome the Minister's reply to Question No. 132. This question is somewhat linked in that it concerns the commitment in the programme for Government to increase diversity in An Garda Síochána by recruiting and retaining members who represent more diverse and minority backgrounds.
I thank the Deputy for her question. As she said, the programme for Government contains a commitment to increase diversity within An Garda Síochána, prioritising the identification and removal of barriers to recruiting and retaining people from diverse and minority backgrounds. This work is being taken forward as part of An Garda Síochána's equality, diversity and inclusion, EDI, strategy. The Garda Commissioner and the Secretary General of my Department are leading on this issue across the public service. My Department's Justice Plan 2021 commits to supporting the EDI strategy to ensure An Garda Síochána can attract, retain and develop a diverse and inclusive workforce, including preparation of a diversity recruitment roadmap. This roadmap will be informed by the ongoing work of An Garda Síochána to identify key challenges related to the recruitment and retention of individuals from minority backgrounds.
The EDI strategy sets out 11 strategic goals to be met by the end of this year to increase equality, diversity and inclusion within the Garda organisation, including the establishment of governance structures to ensure the strategy's goals are met. The EDI leadership council, chaired by the newly appointed deputy commissioner with responsibility for strategy, governance and performance and comprising colleagues from across the public sector, including my Department, and academia, has been established to oversee this work, including addressing the issue of greater diversity in recruitment within the Garda.
The Deputy will be pleased that the EDI strategy also provides for the establishment of an internship programme for both school-leavers and graduates. The aim of this programme is to attract graduates and school-leavers from communities that have been traditionally under-represented within An Garda Síochána.
To support the objective of attracting, developing and retaining individuals of talent and representation from minority and diverse communities, the Garda national diversity and inclusion unit, GNDIU, in conjunction with the Garda human resources, equality, diversity and inclusion section, is actively engaging with representatives of minority groups.
I thank the Minister of State for her comprehensive response. I am conscious that she and I are speaking as members of a minority in this Parliament but very much as privileged people in terms of gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity and expression. It is great that we are having a conversation about this important issue. It is not in any sense a side issue but, rather, an issue of core importance to how we reflect and protect everybody in our society. It is very important that this conversation is led by the people who have experienced discrimination and barriers that the Minister of State and I may not have experienced. I want to put the issue in that context, recognising that privilege and the impact it has. This is great and really important work. Will the Minister of State comment on how we can make sure the people engaged in this broad body of work hear the voices they need to hear?
Members of An Garda Síochána will undertake training that covers hate crime and diversity awareness. That training includes contributions from a number of minority communities as well as NGOs. The training will be delivered to both Garda members and staff and will build on the diversity training embedded into all aspects of the BA in applied policing that is undertaken by all trainee and probationer gardaí. The training will support the delivery of a human rights-based policing service to diverse communities in a non-discriminatory and professional manner. This is a key target of the Garda diversity and integration strategy for 2019 to 2021.
There are currently 281 Garda diversity officers located across the country. In addition, the GNDIU is available to assist and support all members on the front line. The unit monitors hate crime and hate-related incidents via PULSE, engages with social and written media on developing policy and strategy, and advises and supports investigators.
As the Minister of State will know, Fine Gael is placing a very strong emphasis on what we can do to support better integration and intercultural understanding. Fine Gael has within its membership an intercultural integration group and we are trying to listen and ensure it is led by people who are impacted by barriers. I urge that with the conversation on An Garda Síochána, the discussion is lead by people who have been impacted by discrimination and by barriers rather than an assumption that it is sufficient to talk to that community via the existing Garda diversity officers, who may not have experienced discrimination. I urge the Department to talk to An Garda Síochána to ensure it is bringing in people where they are needed and to ensure that conversation is led by people who have experienced discrimination and who understand how it feels and the importance of change.
The Deputy made valid point. Garda diversity forums has been established and they are going to liaise and communicate directly with different minority groups. There is ongoing communication between different groups, including, for example, the Cavan Cross Cultural Community, Dublin City Interfaith Forum, The Federation for Victim Assistance, the Garda Traveller advisory group, the Immigrant Council of Ireland and the Irish Criminal Justice and Disability Network. There is significant engagement between a number of sectors and An Garda Síochána to ensure the strategy is rolled out.