Sharp rise in ethnic minorities applying to join the Garda

Applications from Black, Asian and Traveller communities increase dramatically

Forty three members of the Travelling community were among the 11,000 people who applied to join the gardaí in its latest recruitment campaign.

This year’s campaign aims to recruit 800 gardaí, particularly from diverse backgrounds. According to figures released by Garda Headquarters, while white Irish still make up a large majority of applicants (8,570 of those of declared their ethnicity were white Irish), the number of applicants from diverse backgrounds has been increasing.

Twenty three per cent of applicants this year who declared an ethnicity were from non-white Irish backgrounds, up from 12 per cent in 2019.

The majority of these (598 applicants) described themselves “any other white background”. Forty-three said they were “White-Irish Traveller” (up from 14 in 2019) and 332 said they were Asian or Asian-Irish (up from 68 in 2019).


There were 55 applicants who said they were from China (up from 7 in 2019) and 132 who described themselves as "Black or Black Irish" (up from 8).

A further 122 ticked the “other including mixed background” box. Just under 11 per cent of applicants (1,196) did not indicate any ethnic background.

About 40 per cent of applications came from women and 466 came through the garda’s dedicated Irish language stream.

People currently serving in the Garda Reserves accounted for 71 applications. Throughout the most recent recruitment campaign Garda management has placed a specific emphasis on reaching a more diverse audience, including by hosting outreach and information events.

The uniform policy of the force has also been changed in recent years to allow certain religious garments, such as turbans and headscarves, to be worn on duty.

Commissioner Drew Harris said on Monday the gardaí still has a lot of work to do to become more representative of Irish society "but this is a good start."

He said the increase in applications from across ethnic backgrounds “is very welcome and encouraging, as is the level of application from women.”

Mr Harris said: "In our centenary year, it is very gratifying to see the continuing high level of interest in becoming a member of An Garda Síochána. This speaks to the connection we have with communities and the desire among citizens to give back to those communities by becoming a Garda."

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times