Garda diversity

An Garda Síochána are correct that imbalances in recruitment will, over time, produce an unbalanced police force attempting to serve an increasingly diverse community.

They can draw from the Northern Ireland experience, where strenuous efforts, including a decade of a controversial 50-50 selection policy introduced by the Patten Commission, contributed to a greater proportionality, but not parity, between Catholics and Protestants in the PSNI.

They can also look to the UK where 14% of the population is from black and ethnic minorities but the ratio of police is 5%. In cities such as London the figures are 55% and 10% respectively.

If intelligence-led policing is essential to future safety then this has to be addressed as a priority. But as the Garda Review cogently points out “An Garda Siochána provides a catchall security service from counter-espionage to border control, from law enforcement to river rescue.”

To deliver its objectives the force of the future will need to be diverse and versatile. The involvement of black and ethnic minorities, of non-Irish nationals, and LGBT representatives will be fundamental in forthcoming reviews.

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