298. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice the Government policy in relation to ensuring ethnic diversity in An Garda Síochána; the discussions that she has had with the Garda Commissioner in relation to this matter; the number of applications received from the Traveller community for membership of an Garda Síochána in 2019; the number recruited; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23971/22]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): Both the Government and the Garda Commissioner are committed to increasing diversity within An Garda Síochána and ensuring that all communities can see themselves reflected in our police service.
The Garda Commissioner has put a welcome focus on equality, diversity and inclusion, as An Garda Síochána seek to embed the principle that human rights are the foundation and the purpose of policing in Ireland.
- An Garda Síochána have demonstrated this in recent years through the foundation of the Garda National Diversity & Integration Unit (GNDIU), publication of an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy Statement and Action Plan and through a concentrated effort to encourage minorities to apply for their most recent recruitment campaign.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that, as part of this work, the GNDIU (supported by other sections) complied information packs which set out in easy to understand formats information regarding:
- Entry requirements for applicants
- Changes to An Garda Síochána’s Uniform and Dress Policy
- Changes to the Irish Language requirements
The information packs were distributed to An Garda Síochána's Travelling Community stakeholders and members of the Garda Traveller Advisory Group (GTAG), in order to assist with efforts to raise awareness of the competition, and encourage applications within the Travelling Community. The information packs were also provided to Garda Diversity Officers (GDO) to promote awareness within minority communities in their areas. The Garda National Diversity Forum also supported these efforts.
I am advised that the GNDIU also conducted an information Webinar which included a Q&A with representatives from the Public Appointments Service , HR Competitions, Garda Probationers and Garda Interns, in which members of the Travelling Community participated.
Until this year, people applying to An Garda Síochána were required to have proven proficiency in two languages in order to join the Gardaí – one of which was required to be English or Irish. That requirement has changed, and candidates are now only required to have one of these languages to enter An Garda Síochána. We know that there are under-represented groups who are much less likely to have studied two languages, and the removal of the two language requirement takes away another barrier to entry for these groups.
I am pleased to say that there has been a very welcome increase in the number of people from the Traveller Community applying for a job with An Garda Síochána with 43 applicants describing themselves as ‘White Traveller’, which is up from just 19 applicants in 2019. There was also as increase in people from people from other minority backgrounds. This is really important as it is essential that An Garda Síochána is representative of the communities that it protects.
I am advised that An Garda Síochána does not record the ethnicity of Garda personnel and therefore the number recruited from the 2019 competition is not available.
- I would in conclusion like to advise the Deputy that An Garda Síochána launched the first Garda Diversity Internship last November, which is a first of its kind initiative for An Garda Síochána. The internship aims to increase the accessibility, understanding of, and potential for a career in An Garda Síochána for school-leavers and graduates, particularly those from groups typically under-represented in the organisation. There are currently 29 interns employed on the programme on a full-time, short-term basis; 13 third level graduates and 15 recent school leavers.