Campaign to encourage African-Irish and Travellers to join Garda

Cabinet approves move to ensure Irish language skill no longer advantage in recruitment

The Government and Garda are making a specific appeal to African-Irish people and members of the Traveller community to join the Garda, and the language requirements are being changed to ensure proficiency in Irish is no longer an advantage.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Garda Commissioner Drew Harris will today formally launch the recruitment campaign for 2022, when 800 sworn Garda members and 400 civilian staff will be hired. They will make a direct appeal to members of minority communities and urge them to consider a career in policing.

The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, which reported in 2018 and set out reforms required in the Garda, said the force must become more diverse. This week the Policing Authority said Travellers, "young people of colour" and other minorities were much less satisfied with policing during the pandemic than other sectors of society.

Ms McEntee said she wanted “everyone in our society, such as our African-Irish and Traveller communities, to see members of their own communities” working as gardaí and in other posts in the force.


"I urge people from these communities to seriously think over Christmas about applying in the new year," she said. "I have discussed this with the commissioner and I am very pleased that a vigorous campaign will be launched by An Garda Síochána to encourage as many people as possible to apply."

Ms McEntee also said she wanted to see more women applying for jobs in the Garda.

The decision to change the language requirements for recruits was approved at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, though it went unannounced. Until now those joining the Garda had to be proficient in two languages, one of which had to be Irish or English. However, under the new changes proficiency in only one language will be required.


The Department of Justice said the change would “remove any potential disadvantage for people not born in Ireland who do not have any experience with the Irish language”. It added the requirement to speak two languages was acting “as a barrier to more diverse recruitment”.

The Garda Síochána (Admissions and Appointments) Regulations 2013 will be amended to give effect to the change. However, the department said the Garda “remains committed” to the Irish language, which could still be studied as part of the Policing BA.

Furthermore, a new Irish language strategy would be launched early next year “to strengthen Irish language services” within the Garda and “ensure compliance with statutory language obligations”.

The last recruitment competition for the Garda was held in early 2019. A large panel of successful candidates was assembled and was taken into the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary, in tranches through 2019 and into 2020. However, the Covid-19 lockdown effectively closed the college, and now another recruitment process is due to begin early next year.

A new access programme was also launched within the Garda last month offering civilian staff internships to “young people from communities traditionally underrepresented” in the force.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times