Just one-in-five new gardaí is a woman, minister reveals
Fewer than one-in-five new garda recruits are women, newly-released figures reveal.
The force may be led by a woman, Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, but the number of new female entrants lags way behind that of their male counterparts.
The news comes as Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald today publish her new Police Authority bill, which will give a legislative basis for the new Independent Garda Authority.
The new figures show that of the latest batch of recruits accepted into the Garda Training College at Templemore, 81 were male and just 18 were female.
The details were contained in figures released by Ms Fitzgerald to Fine Gael deputy Catherine Byrne by way of a parliamentary question.
The figures, which were broken down on a county-by-county basis, showed that Dublin had 22 male recruits accepted into the force while just three female were accepted. Cork and Clare also both had three female candidates accepted, with Clare being the only county to have more female recruits accepted into Templemore than male.
Galway and Louth both had two female candidates accepted while counties Kerry, Kildare, Meath, Offaly and Roscommon each had one female recruit accepted into the force. According to the Garda Press Office, the force now stands at 12,800 members and the gender balance overall is consistent with the level of women in the latest intake into Templemore.
Since the 1990s, when entry criteria were changed, the numbers of women entering the force has edged towards 25pc.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the distribution of personnel among the Garda regions, divisions, and districts. "Garda management keep this distribution under continuing review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of these resources," she said.
However, there was some concern within Government as to the low numbers of women coming through, given significant changes to the recruitment process.
The process is now run with the involvement of the Public Appointments Service (PAS) and is independent of Ms Fitzgerald's department.
Those seeking to be a member of An Garda Síochána, must now have obtained an Irish Leaving Certificate with a grade D3 minimum in five subjects at ordinary level, or a similar qualification.
They must also have a proven proficiency in two languages, one of which must be Irish or English.
The PAS now verifies the validity of qualifications other than the Irish Leaving Certificate.
Meanwhile, today will see the publication of the Garda Síochána Policing Authority Miscellaneous Bill 2015, which will give legal effect to the much-awaited independent police authority.
The Cabinet last week signed off on the bill and the new body, led by former Revenue Commissioner Josephine Feehily will be established in "shadow form" until its formal establishment later in the year.
The establishment of the independent police authority is a central plank of Ms Fitzgerald's reform agenda following the series of justice-related scandals in 2014.