Headscarves And Turbans Now Permitted As Part Of Garda Uniform

The move is aimed at increasing the recruitment of ethnic minorities into the force.

Female Muslim members of the Gardaí will from now on be permitted to wear headscarves under new rules announced by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. 

According to the Irish Times, new rules state that Gardaí members of the Sikh religion will be permitted to wear turbans and Muslim women will be allowed to wear a partial hijab or headscarf.

The burka and the niqab, however, which are worn by some Muslim women and cover up much more of the body and face, will continue to be prohibited while on duty.

The newly-sanctioned garments will be supplied by the organisation and will come in the standard blue colour to match the rest of the Garda uniform.

Although the number of recruits from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds has been increasing in recent years, An Garda Síochána remains in large part a homogenous organisation with most of its members from a predominantly Irish Catholic background.

However, a new recruitment campaign entitled 'The difference is you' aims to change that.

Members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) are anxious to recruit higher numbers of ethnic minorities into the force. According to figures released last year by the GRA, just 0.4% of Gardaí, or one in 240, come from an ethnic minority compared to 6% in the UK.

Commissioner Harris said that the force needs to become more diverse to properly reflect the society it serves and it is focusing on people who might not have previously considered a career in the police service.

He also says this new approach is in line with those adopted by the PSNI, NYPD, and police services in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

As of 31 March 2019, there are 14,161 members of An Garda Síochána and there is a Government commitment to grow this to 15,000 by 2021.

"I very much welcome the Commissioner’s decision to facilitate alterations to the Garda uniform on request to accommodate religious and ethnic diversity," Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said.

"An Garda Síochána is there to serve all members of our society so it is important for it to reflect the welcome and increasing diversity of Irish life.  I would urge members of our minority and new communities to consider applying as Ireland needs increased workforce diversity in all our public services."

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