Garda Authority to monitor gender balance in force
THE new Garda Authority will monitor the force to ensure there is gender balance and diversity among the membership, its chairwoman Josephine Feehily has said.
Speaking at the launch of the legislation governing the authority, Ms Feehily said the oversight body will "keep an eye" on garda recruitment.
"The question of diversity in An Garda Síochána is an area the authority will keep an eye on. We will have the power in the bill to look into any concerns we have about the recruitment process," she said.
"I imagine diversity is an issue we will keep under review given the changing demographics of our society," she added.
Women make up 26pc - or one in five - of the force's membership, according to figures revealed in yesterday's Irish Independent.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she is seeking a review of the garda recruitment process to ensure it is "fair and equal".
"I want to make sure there is nothing in those processes that would discriminate in any way. It will be interesting to analyse how women are doing in the various tests to become a member of An Garda Síochána and see why it is that more men are coming through," the minister said.
Ms Feehily said the new authority is open to recruiting former gardaí and insisted this did not represent a conflict of interest. "Policing knowledge would be a helpful asset to have in the authority," she said.
It is expected the authority will be made up of around 30 staff and eight board members.
She said the legislation published yesterday gives the authority "as much independence as it can" in the context of the "constitutional parameters".
Ms Feehily, a former Revenue Commissioner, also insisted she will exercise her "independence to the fullest extent the bill allows".
The authority was established in the wake of the garda scandals last year, which led to the resignations of former Justice Minister Alan Shatter and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.
The authority will be responsible for appointing candidates to senior positions in the force, and removing them if it deemed necessary. It will also put forward nominations to the Cabinet for the posts of Garda Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner.
It will have the power to call for Garda Ombudsman and Garda Inspectorate investigations in the garda practices and procedures.
Meetings between the authority and the Garda Commissioner will be held in public and available for broadcast on television.