Thursday, 10 December 2020

Questions (42)

David Stanton

Question:

42. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Justice the proposals being considered to increase diversity within the ranks of An Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41571/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government commits to increasing the diversity within An Garda Síochána, prioritising the identification and removal of barriers to recruiting and retaining people from diverse and minority backgrounds.

This is in line with the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, which recommended that An Garda Síochána needs to develop its recruitment strategies to reach a more diverse intake of students

The Commission recommended that An Garda Síochána should reflect the diversity of Irish society, not only in gender and ethnicity, but also in terms of socio-economic, educational and geographical backgrounds and that they would need to develop recruitment strategies which reach a more diverse intake. The report also recommended the reform of the current roster system to support the wellbeing of all Garda Members and introducing greater flexibility in work practices to enhance the attractiveness and job satisfaction of policing as a career.

In recent years, An Garda Síochána has taken a number of steps to support the implementation of the Public Sector Equality and Human Rights Duty with respect to Garda personnel.  A notable example includes the development of recruitment material in 12 different languages for their most recent Garda trainee recruitment campaign. An Garda Síochána has also made significant strides towards ensuring that the Garda uniform accommodates religious diversity.

An Garda Síochána’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Action Plan 2020-2021 aims to encourage a work environment where all employees can thrive.  In particular, there is a focus on improvements to worklife balance, reasonable accommodation for disability and mental health, and the promotion of an intercultural workplace.

In this regard, the Deputy may be aware that the Garda Commissioner launched An Garda Síochána's Equality, Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Strategy Statement & Action Plan 2020 – 2021 on 1 December 2020. The EDI Strategy & Action Plan identifies a number of priority actions that align with the external Diversity and Integration Strategy 2019 – 2021 and will lay the foundations to drive the equality, diversity and inclusion agenda forward within An Garda Síochána, and reinforces key ethical behaviours to support the delivery of an effective policing service.

I am informed that the plan will assist An Garda Síochána in striving to ensure that all members of An Garda Síochána, Garda Reserves and Garda staff are unhindered by workplace discrimination regardless of age, gender, disability, civil status, family status, sexual orientation, race, religious belief, or membership of the Traveller community.

This includes: 

- Establishing an EDI Leadership Council and EDI Policy to set out a statement of standards.

- Providing EDI training to all personnel and introduce employee engagement on EDI matters.

- Continuing to support work-life balance options, including family-friendly initiatives.

- An amended Uniform Policy to avoid inadvertent gender discrimination.

- Developing a Gender Identity Policy.

- Identifying and resolving key challenges related to the recruitment of individuals from minority background.

- Developing guidelines on the use of professional and non-discriminatory language in the workplace.

- Continuing to support reasonable accommodation in regards to disability and mental health.

- Collecting data on all grounds covered within the equality legislation and within the bounds of data protection.

Over the next 18 months, the necessary resources, leadership and infrastructure will be put in place to see this Strategy and Action Plan through to its successful completion.