Garda Síochána rejects claim that members of force engage in racial profiling

Gardaí challenge authors of report to produce examples and says it’s one of most trusted police forces worldwide

An Garda Síochána has challenged two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to present evidence that widespread racial profiling goes on within the force.

A report published this week from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) and the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) argues that the absence of statistics by the gardaí related to how they treat ethnic minority communities allows the force to claim that there is no racial profiling in its activities.

This claim is at odds, the Policing and Racial Discrimination in Ireland report suggests, with research carried out by the ICCL and the INAR along with other organisations working in the field.

Examples, the report states, include evidence that racial profiling occurs in the use of stop and search powers by gardaí, discriminatory border checks during cross-border travel between Ireland and Northern Ireland, and evidence that members of the Traveller and Roma community are particularly targeted for racial profiling. The unlawful removal of Roma children from their family in 2013 based on ethnic profiling is a high-profile example, the authors say.


The report involved 36 participants from ethnic minority backgrounds living in Ireland, who participated in a number of workshops. Thirty (83 per cent) expressed a fear of being racially profiled or discriminated against by gardaí. Eleven participants (31 per cent) specifically mentioned issues around being black and their belief that gardaí assume that black people cannot be Irish. Participants also noted that there is a lack of trust between minority communities and An Garda Síochána.

Both organisations recommended that An Garda Síochána should be mandated to produce data relating to how it polices ethnic minority communities in Ireland.

In response, An Garda Síochána said the allegation of racial profiling “is a very serious one”.

It has called on the report’s authors or individuals who co-operated with it to take examples of racial profiling to a local Garda station or the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

In a statement, the Garda said it is one of the “most trusted police services in the world based on our tradition of policing by consent. An Garda Síochána polices in the interests of all people and all communities.”

It pointed to a public attitudes survey carried out in 2022 of 7,699 adults including 1,000 non-white residents in Ireland. Ninety per cent of adults believe gardaí would treat them with respect and 75 per cent said they would be treated fairly. A total of 79 per cent of respondents said the Garda was human rights-focused.

Some 3,000 gardaí have undergone a human rights and policing course and a further 1,000 are to take it this year.

“This course – like many other courses in An Garda Síochána – feature inputs from civil society organisations and the lived experiences of members of minority communities,” the force added in its statement.

It also said the force is to shortly introduce continuous professional development training on cultural awareness addressing the following topics: diversity and inclusion, culture, racism and conscious/unconscious bias.

“An Garda Síochána was one of the first police services in the world to establish a dedicated diversity unit,” the statement continued.

“We have over 580 diversity officers throughout the country who engage with minority communities and individuals on a daily basis to provide them with reassurance and address issues of concern for them.

“We have a diversity forum where we meet regularly with representative groups to get their feedback on our policing service and how we can improve it. All Garda polices are human rights reviewed.”

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Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times