The Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 1988, as amended, govern entry to the Garda Síochána and provide that applicants generally must be at least 18 and under 26 years on the first day of the month that the competition is advertised. The regulations provide for some extension to the upper age limit for applicants with certain specified service in the Defence Forces. This is underpinned by section 37 of the Employment Equality Act 1998 which provides, inter alia, that employment in the Garda Síochána is exempt from those parts of the Act relating to discrimination on age grounds.
The Equality Bill 2004, currently before the Seanad, will bring into effect new equality provisions in line with EU directives on equality including, inter alia, Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment. The Equality Bill 2004 will amend section 37 of the 1998 Act to the effect that the age exemption can continue to apply to recruitment to the Garda Síochána to the extent that the operational capacity of the force would otherwise be adversely affected. The implications of this for the current rules on admission to the Garda Síochána are currently under consideration.