43. Deputy Aindrias Moynihan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the steps being taken in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion in An Garda Síochána; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [49810/18]
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.
I am informed by the Commissioner that the development of a Garda Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2018-2021 is at an advanced stage and is expected to be completed in the near future. The strategy will aim 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. The strategy will also have regard to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act, 2014, specifically Section 42 which states that a public body shall, in the performance of its functions, have regard to the need to, eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and treatment of its staff and the persons to whom it provides services, and protect the human rights of its members, staff and the persons to whom it provides services.
The Garda Code of Ethic commits every person working in An Garda Síochána to recognising and respecting the dignity and equal human rights of all people. It also commits to opposing and challenging any behaviour or language that demonstrates discrimination or disrespect, in particular with regard to vulnerable individuals or minority groups. To date In excess of 10,900 Garda members and staff have received training in relation to the Code.
I am 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 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.
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.