Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
343. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to increase the ethnic diversity of An Garda Síochána, specifically the policy of recruitment of persons from Middle Eastern and Arabic backgrounds; and the number of such persons currently in the force. [10887/20]
I would first note that the administration and management of An Garda Síochána is the function of the Garda Commissioner under the Garda Síochána Act 2005. This includes responsibility for matters such as the recruitment and training of members.
However and as the Deputy will be aware, in December 2018 the Government endorsed the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and the report is now being implemented in accordance with the targets and timelines set out in the 4-year plan "A Policing Service for the Future".
Among the issues highlighted in the Commission's report was that An Garda Síochána should reflect the diversity of Irish society and should therefore develop recruitment strategies to achieve a more diverse intake. These recommendations echoed those of the Garda Inspectorate following their examination of entry routes into An Garda Síochána. Work is currently underway on the drafting of Terms of Reference for a Working Group to bring forward a review of entry to An Garda Síochána.
Even in advance of any such review, it is the case that the Public Appointments Service which runs the Garda recruitment campaigns has in recent years made significant efforts to attract candidates from minority communities, including though publication of videos and materials in multiple languages.
As the Deputy may be aware, in order to promote entry and remove a barrier for entry for individuals from some communities, when launching last year’s recruitment competition the Commissioner last year also approved changes to the Garda uniform to allow the wearing of the hijab or turban.
In addition, the Garda Diversity and Integration Strategy was adopted last year. This Strategy reflects a commitment to further diversity in the Garda workforce. It contains a working definition for the investigation of hate crime, to ensure that Gardaí are alert to and appropriately record hate incidents. And it commits to proactive, respectful engagement with all members of society, including minority groups.
I am informed that a number of actions have already taken under the Strategy. These include:
- organisation of the annual Consultation Day in December 2019, which involved representation from a wide spectrum of our diverse and minority communities;
- organisation during 2020 of dialogue days, tailored to specific minority groups and including discussion of barriers to entry. Further dialogue days were postponed, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but will be rescheduled when circumstances allow. And
- establishment of a Diversity Forum. The terms of reference of the Diversity Forum will include addressing the barriers to recruitment and retention as well as monitoring progress in this field. Representatives for the Forum have been identified but progress has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.