herald

Wednesday 12 December 2018

It's time to change garda culture, acting chief tells recruits

FORMER Garda Reserve members make up almost a quarter of new recruits starting their training at Templemore.

A total of 24 out of the 100 recruits come from the reserves' ranks, and are the first batch of new gardai to begin their training there for years.

The group, which includes 18 women, were addressed yesterday by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and acting Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan.

Both the minister and acting commissioner welcomed the number of female recruits, although it is lower than the overall proportion of females in the force.

MASTERS

The students range in age from 20 to 35, which is the outer age limit, and include those with degrees in law, business, biotechnology, social studies, environmental engineering and sociology as well as masters in criminology and human rights in criminal justice.

Some students have been working as engineers, fitness instructors, psychiatric nurses, carpenters and plumbers.

Two 25-year-old Dublin students, Sean White, of Kingswood, Tallaght, and David Hickey, of Shankill, have no garda connections in the family.

Sean, who has a BA degree, expected the training to be challenging and intense.

Meanwhile, David, a former off-licence manager who also has a degree from DIT, said his first days in the uniform were a shock to the system but he looked forward to his new career.

Ms O'Sullivan told the recruits that each one of them was responsible for garda culture.

"That wasn't the way it was at any stage in the past when culture, meaning the way we do things, the assumptions we operate on, the habits and reflexes that make us guards, came from the top.

"Its time to upend it," she added. "Yes, the direction must be set down from the top but each of you, like every other member of An Garda Siochana have an individual responsibility to behave professionally and ethically.

Creativity

"There is not much point in taking the 100 best out of 25,000 and not gaining from your creativity, your insight and your passion for policing," she said.

She advised the students not to stay silent if they thought they had a better way of approaching a problem and told them to make themselves heard in the interests of the police service and the people they served.

Mrs Fitzgerald said their recruitment marked a positive step forward for policing in Ireland after recent months had seen a negative focus on administration and oversight of policing in the State.

hnews@ herald.ie

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