The high level of interest has prompted hope in Garda HQ that Arabic-speaking people have applied in the competition, and, thereby, help boost the Garda’s very low level of diversity.
A leading Muslim cleric has said it was “very encouraging” to see such a high level of interest among Arabic-speaking communities — saying it was important for the communities themselves, the Garda Síochána and Irish society.
But Shaykh Dr Umar Al-Qadri expressed concern that Garda management did not “understand” the importance of active interaction with communities.
He praised the work of Sergeant Dave McInerney of the Garda Racial, Intercultural & Diversity Office but said that every station in the country needs to have diversity officers and that their work should be monitored.
A Garda spokesman said in the most recent recruitment campaign a series of videos, and text, were produced in multiple languages — English, Irish, French, Spanish, Italian and Arabic.
They were published on the Garda Facebook page, which has more than 180,000 followers.
“The Arabic video was viewed over 10,200 times and other foreign language videos viewed around 7,000 times,” he said.
He said Arabic was the most popular after English and Irish.
A poster was produced in 12 languages and displayed online, and printed versions were given to Garda Ethnic Liaison Officers (ELOs) for distribution.
Shaykh Al-Qadri of the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre Ireland, in Blanchardstown, west Dublin, said it was “very encouraging” to see such high interest among Arab speaking communities.
“It has been on many occasions highlighted among Muslim communities that we must contribute to Ireland as this is our home now,” Dr Al-Qadri said.
He said there was “certainly” interest in all Muslim communities, both Arab speaking and non-Arab speaking, to serve in the guards.
The imam said it was important for these communities to participate in public life, especially the Gardaí, saying it would give them a “sense of belonging” and could feel “proudly Irish”.
He said: “Community cohesion is achieved through inclusivity. For the Gardaí, they must be as diverse as the population of Ireland is now.
Arab speaking and other non-English languages speaking guards and those that understand the different cultures will enhance the capabilities of the force to police but also gain trust of the communities and gain intelligence.
Asked if the Garda Síochána doing enough on diversity, Shaykh Al-Qadri praised the work of Sgt McInerney, including his visits to communities.
“However, it seems that the top management and others really do not understand how important it is to have such visits,” he said.
Shaykh Al-Qadri said all garda stations should have diversity officers that are trained — and that their work should be monitored.