Force seeks to attract more ethnic minorities

THERE was a large turnout yesterday at the first ever open day in An Garda Síochána for ethnic minorities.

People from a host of nationalities and minorities travelled to the Garda College in Templemore for a sample of a possible career in the force.

Gardaí were very impressed by the level of interest and the number of inquiries from people from ethnic minorities regarding the new recruitment phase.

The new campaign, adverts for which began appearing this week, is specifically aimed at attracting non-Irish members into the force.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell received approval from the Cabinet at the beginning of the month to make changes to recruitment criteria for the gardaí.

This includes the dropping of the requirement that applicants have a Leaving Cert qualification in Irish and English.

This is replaced with the requirement for a qualification in two languages, only one of which has to be either Irish or English.

Irish will continue to be a requirement for graduation and applicants who do not speak the language will have to attend classes and achieve a certain standard.

Mr McDowell said the changes will open up the force to people from all parts of the community and all ethnic backgrounds.

He said the new system would ensure that future recruits reflected the composition of Irish society. He said Ireland was increasingly multi-ethnic and that the existing absolute requirement for garda trainees to hold an academic qualification in Irish was undoubtedly a barrier to membership.

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