Government urged to open up all Garda jobs to foreign officers

Garda inspectorate’s proposals come days after force’s new commissioner is named

The Garda inspectorate proposed civilians should be eligible to apply to join the force as inspectors, becoming sworn police officers in the process. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The Garda inspectorate proposed civilians should be eligible to apply to join the force as inspectors, becoming sworn police officers in the process. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

Police officers from other countries, including outside the European Union, should be allowed to apply for Garda jobs across all ranks, the Government has been advised by the Garda Síochána Inspectorate.

The proposals come days after Police Service of Northern Ireland deputy chief constable Drew Harris was named as incoming Garda Commissioner. He will be the first person from outside the State to lead the Garda.

However, the main Garda staff bodies are concerned about the impact opening up recruitment would have on their members’ careers, and they believe recruiting from foreign police forces should be predicated on reciprocal arrangements. At present the only positions in the Garda open to outsiders are those at commissioner and deputy commissioner level. Both civilians and foreign police officers are permitted to apply for those posts.

The inspectorate has also proposed civilians should be eligible to apply to enter the Garda as inspectors, becoming sworn police officers in the process. And once that process has been trialled at inspector level it should be evaluated with a view to being extended to superintendent and chief superintendent level.

The inspectorate said it believed the current stipulation that foreign candidates applying for the Garda must be from Europe or have secured immigration status in the Republic should be abolished.

The maximum age limit for applying to the Garda, currently 35 years, should also be set aside.

Code of ethics

Separately, it has emerged that more than 60 per cent of gardaí who have received training in the new Garda code of ethics have not signed up to the code, under which members commit to adhering to standards including “honesty and integrity” and “respect and equality”.

A meeting of the Policing Authority heard many Garda members had not signed due to a technical error, but Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy believed “a cohort of people” would refuse to sign.

“There’s a very different conversation we’re going to have to have with them at that stage,” he said.

The Garda Representative Association said the code was a “one-way street” in the absence of adequate support and training for its members.

“Our members are being asked to declare adherence, yet the organisation itself has not made any corresponding commitment to its people,” a spokesman said.

Some gardaí are reluctant to sign the code as they see it as additional regulations that must be complied with.