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'Really encouraging': Reaction to change in Garda uniform to allow wearing of turbans and hijabs

The decision comes alongside a new recruitment drive for gardaí.

THE DECISION TO allow alterations be made to the garda uniform for religious and ethnic reasons has been welcomed by a number of groups today. 

Under the changes, gardaí will allow the wearing of the turban for members of the Sikh community and the hijab for Muslims.

An Garda Síochána said it has identified such matters as a major barrier to some people considering becoming a Garda member. 

The decision made by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris comes as the force today opened a recruitment competition for Garda trainees, which will remain open until 3pm on 24 April.

The recruitment drive is being advertised under the slogan ‘The Difference is You’.

“We also know that we need to become a much more diverse organisation so that we properly reflect the society we serve. That’s why our campaign is focusing on people who might not have previously considered a career as a Garda member,” Harris said. 

“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,” he said. 

‘Step towards integration’

The Muslims Sisters of Éire said it wishes to “acknowledge and celebrate” the decision that the wearing of the turban and the hijab will be allowed. 

“It is a step towards integration and societal cohesion when our policing forces are welcome to visually represent people of all backgrounds, faiths and none,” the group said. 

Especially in times of increasing tear towards Muslims, welcoming Muslim gardaí force members to keep their religious attire can greatly assist in irradiating Islamophobic attitudes and discrimination towards people of faith. 

The Immigrant Council of Ireland tweeted that the decision is “really encouraging news”.

Meanwhile, the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has described Harris’ decision as a “useful measure”. 

“We welcome any reasonable measure such as the relaxation of rules on uniform to facilitate recruitment of people from non-Christian backgrounds – and are open to other approaches for bringing people born outside Ireland into the force irrespective of their religion or ethnicity,” GRA General Secretary Pat Ennis said. 

The new approach being taken by An Garda Síochána 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.

An Garda Síochána is also carrying out research with communities who are under-represented in the force to identify what more the organisation needs to do to encourage them to join either as a Garda member, Garda staff or Garda reserve. 

Garda trainee candidates can apply on www.publicjobs.ie until 3pm on 24 April.

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