Arabic-speaking gardaí 'critically important' to public's safety
Recruiting Arabic-speaking gardaí is "critically important" to help the force combat possible jihadist activity in Ireland, it has been claimed.
As part of a new recruitment campaign, gardaí acknowledged that the association lacks the language skill-sets needed to efficiently investigate Islamic extremism.
However, it is confident that changes to their dress-code, which will allow members of the force wear turbans, hijabs and beards, will attract more minority groups and Arabic speakers.
"It is critically important that we get those skills to ensure that we keep this country safe," said Deputy Commissioner of Policing and Security John Twomey.
"It's clear that we in An Garda Síochána need to change and do more in our approach."
Currently, just 1pc of gardaí are from ethnic-minority backgrounds.
The changes to its dress policy aim to reflect the increasing diversity of Irish life.
In addition to this, the force is now considering lifting its strict beard ban for all Garda members. At present, only plain-clothes members or officers with medical issues are allowed to wear them.
"All matters pertaining to the Garda uniform are currently under consideration," a Garda spokesperson said.
Deputy Commissioner Twomey said the exact details of the new uniform were still being considered.
"As we design the uniform, we will consider what the religious and ethnic requirements are from all communities and accommodate them subject to operational health and safety requirements," he said.
At present there are more than 14,100 members in the force. The Government has committed to grow the numbers to 15,000 by 2021.
Welcoming the new recruitment campaign, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said it was vital that the association continued to attract a high calibre of individuals.
He also acknowledged the need for the force to become a more diverse organisation which reflects the society it serves. "That is why our campaign is focusing on people who might not have previously considered a career as a Garda member," he said.