Gardaí to be allowed to wear hijabs and turbans for first time under new diversity drive
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Gardaí to be allowed to wear hijabs and turbans for first time under new diversity drive

AN Garda Síochána are to permit their officers to wear hijabs and turbans for the first time in an attempt to encourage greater diversity in the force.

The alterations to the Garda uniform code will reportedly be made as part of a new recruitment drive aimed at boosting applications from minority communities across Ireland.

There are currently almost 14,200 Gardaí in the country, but the Government wants to see the total increase to at least 15,000 by 2021.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said it was important that Gardaí reflect the communities that they serve.

"We hope that this will encourage people from minority communities to join An Garda Síochána," he said.

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"We want to demonstrate to them that An Garda Síochána is an inclusive employer that is serious about becoming more diverse."

'Major barrier'

This latest recruitment drive runs for three weeks until April 24 and will include permitting Muslim officers to wear the hijab and Sikh officers to wear a turban subject to operational, health and safety obligations.

The force said it had identified the ban on such items of clothing as a "major barrier to some people considering becoming a Garda member".

Although the number of minority recruits has been increasing in recent years, An Garda Síochána remains almost a completely homogenous organisation with the vast majority of its members from an Irish Catholic background.

Gardaí also say this new approach is in line with similar schemes adopted by the PSNI, NYPD, and police services in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said: "I very much welcome the Commissioner’s decision to facilitate alterations to the Garda uniform on request to accommodate religious and ethnic diversity.

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"An Garda Síochána is there to serve all members of our society so it is important for it to reflect the welcome and increasing diversity of Irish life.

"I would urge members of our minority and new communities to consider applying as Ireland needs increased workforce diversity in all our public services."

Potential Garda trainee candidates can apply here until 3pm on April 24 2019