THE GARDA COMMISSIONER has decided to allow alterations be made to the garda uniform for religious and ethnic reasons as a campaign to recruit new officers was launched.
Under the changes, gardaí will allow the wearing of the turban for members of the Sikh community and the hijab for Muslims.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan announced the launch of this year’s recruitment campaign for new members of An Garda Síochána and said that all sectors of society should be represented within our police force.
Flanagan encouraged all those interested in supporting that mission, to consider applying.
He said: “An Garda Síochána is an integral part of those communities, where they forge connections which have helped maintain public respect for our policing service.
I very much welcome the Commissioner’s decision to facilitate alterations to the Garda uniform on request to accommodate religious and ethnic diversity.
Commissioner Drew Harris said the force needs to “become a much more diverse organisation so that we properly reflect the society we serve”.
He said: “That is why our campaign is focusing on people who might not have previously considered a career as a Garda member. They have the skills we need for a policing role, but they might not have thought they could transfer those to being a Garda.
“We want to encourage people from all walks of life to join us. We are looking for diversity not only in background, but also in skills.”
An Garda Síochána is to allow the wearing of the turban for members of the Sikh community and the hijab for members of the Muslim community. An Garda Síochána has identified such matters as a major barrier to some people considering becoming a Garda member.
This approach is in line with that adopted by police services such as the PSNI, Police Scotland, New Zealand Police, NYPD, and other police services in UK, Australia and Canada.
“We hope that this will encourage people from minority communities to join An Garda Síochána. We want to demonstrate to them that An Garda Síochána is an inclusive employer that is serious about becoming more diverse,” Harris added.
In 2013, the High Court dismissed a challenge by a member of the Irish Sikh community after he was not allowed to wear a turban while training for the Garda reserves.
Two years ago, Police Scotland announced that the hijab had become an optional part of its uniform.
In a statement, police said the decision ”will encourage women from Muslim communities, who may previously not have seen policing as a career option, to reconsider”.
Other police forces have permitted their officers to wear the turban or hijab for some time, with both being allowed by the Metropolitan Police in London for over 15 years.