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New recruitment drive focuses on diversity as garda body warns of 'ticking timebomb'

The GRA said a lack of racial diversity in particular may mean “an explosion in our communities”.

Image: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

THE BODY REPRESENTING thousands of rank-and-file gardaí across the country has warned that a lack of racial and social diversity in the force’s recruitment strategy will lead to ‘social chaos’ in the country.

Head of Communications for the Garda Representative Association (GRA) John O’Keeffe said management has been “noticeably static in addressing the issue of diversity in recruitment.

“The Diversity Strategy & Implementation Plan 2009-12 contained fine words about the ability to recognise difference, the ability to acknowledge it and the ability to respect it, yet we still fall way short of a representative police force in 2017,” he said.

Garda numbers from August 2017 show only 63 gardaí and 37 reserves were from ethnic backgrounds.

“If ethnic minorities are marginalised or disenfranchised, history shows us they will retreat and extremists will take over leading to the type of social chaos we have seen in many cities across Europe in recent times,” O’Keeffe said.

He said the GRA is calling for “greater recruitment from the non-Irish nationals who have made Ireland their home, alongside more members from the LGBT community and Traveller groups and those suffering economic disadvantage – regardless of background”.

“The GRA has made a number of submissions to the Garda Inspectorate yet there are still no management drives to recruit minorities. There has been a long mooted “diversity” yet still no practical results.

“The lack of racial diversity in An Garda Siochána is a ticking time bomb. Government and management failure to correct this imbalance may mean an explosion in our communities sooner than we might have ever imagined.”

In response to a query from TheJournal.ie about the GRA’s concerns, the Garda Press Office said it “does not comment on third party statements”. However it highlighted its recent recruitment launch for 800 candidates to join the force.

Just this week the deadline for applications was extended in An Garda Síochána’s latest recruitment campaign due to “technical difficulties”.

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In a statement about the campaign, a spokesperson for An Garda Síochána said the organisation “serves all of the community and would encourage everyone, and in particular, women, and those from diverse groups, to consider a career in policing”.

There are six videos about the campaign – available in Arabic, English, French, Irish, Italian and Spanish – on the Garda Facebook and Twitter pages.

“We recognise the importance of recruiting people from a wide cross-section of the community so that we are representative of the increasingly diverse society we serve,” they added.

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