Friday 28 October 2016

Force should be representative of community as a whole

Published 18/05/2015 | 02:30

Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan
Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

Why are we not attracting more women into An Garda Síochána? The appointment of Nóirín O'Sullivan as the State's first female Commissioner of the force capped a remarkable rise of women in the justice sector, yet only one-in-five recruits to the force is a woman.

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Commissioner O'Sullivan and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald have contributed significantly to a rebalancing of the scales of justice (or is it power?) in favour of women, joining Chief Justice Susan Denham, Director of Public Prosecutions Claire Loftus, Chief State Solicitor Eileen Creedon and others who occupy senior roles in critical areas of public life.

Many institutions, including politics, business, the judiciary and the Gardaí, have traditionally been slow to attract, retain and promote women.

The representation of women in politics is dismal, but progress is being made in some areas - around a third of judges are women. The recruitment figures for the Gardaí should sound a cause for alarm.

Like juries and parliaments, our police force should be representative of the community as a whole.

The social and economic case for increased female participation is well met, here and elsewhere. It is true that we are recruiting from historically low gender bases.

And while the issue of female representation is largely a legacy issue for the Gardaí and the Police Service of Northern Ireland - the policing board recently warned the successor to the RUC was a "male-dominated network" - action is needed to boost the number of women in both forces.

Irish Independent

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