Saturday 27 May 2017

New Garda authority will monitor force to ensure gender balance and diversity

Frances Fitzgerald
Frances Fitzgerald

Philip Ryan and Holly Cronin

THE New Garda Authority will monitor the force to ensure there is gender balance and diversity among the membership, the authority’s chairwoman Josephine Feehily 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 Siochana 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 latest figures.

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 anyway. It will be interesting to analyse how women are doing in the various tests to become a member of An Garda Siochana 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 gardai and insisted this did not represent a conflict of interest.

“Policing knowledge would be a helpful asset to have in the authority,” she said.

Independence

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 is “independent minded” and will exercise her “independence to the fullest extent the bill allows”.

The authority was established in the wake of the garda scandals, which led to the resignations of former Justice Minister Alan Shatter and former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

Herald

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