127. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for new gender equality measures throughout An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [42727/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is statutorily responsible for the management of An Garda Síochána.
Having said that, I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Office in An Garda Síochána is in the process of developing a strategy to further embed and enhance the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion in An Garda Síochána. Drafting of the Strategy is at an advanced stage and it aims to recognise, acknowledge and respect diversity in Irish society, to attract, retain and develop a diverse workforce, and to provide opportunities for people to self-develop and promote their mental, physical, social health and sense of belonging.
I am further assured by the Garda Commissioner that he recognises the importance of recruiting into An Garda Síochána from a wide cross section of the population so that the organisation provides a policing service that reflects the growing diversity of Irish society. To support this a concerted effort is being made to encourage women and minority communities to consider a career in An Garda Síochána. Recent recruitment campaigns have made a significant effort through on-line videos and other media to attract candidates from minority communities and diverse social groups. In the most recent recruitment campaign a series of videos and text were produced in multiple languages including English, Irish, French, Spanish, Italian and Arabic. They were published on the Garda Facebook page which has more than 180,000 followers.
In relation to the proportion of women members in An Garda Síochána I am informed that the latest figures available indicate that women account for approximately 3,677 Garda members or 27% of the total strength. This compares favourably with the number on 31 December 2008 which was approximately 3,100 or 22% of the total strength. While this is broadly in line with other police services in England and Wales, there is clearly plenty of scope for improvement.
As the Deputy will be aware the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland published its report on 18 September. One of the Report’s key recommendations is that An Garda Síochána should reflect the diversity of Irish society, not only in gender and ethnicity, but also in terms of socio-economic, educational and geographical backgrounds. It also recommends that An Garda Síochána needs to develop recruitment strategies which reach a more diverse intake. The Government noted this Report on publication and my Department is currently consulting widely on the issues raised including with the Garda Commissioner in advance of me returning to Government in December with my views on the recommendations and a High Level Implementation Plan. Question No. 128 answered with Question No. 65.