DUBLIN, Ireland - An Garda Siochana are this week marking the 60th anniversary of women joining as Garda members.
A special event commemorated the anniversary in Farmleigh in Dublin on Wednesday.In July 1959, following a long-running campaign by civic groups and with the support of the then Garda Commissioner and government, twelve women joined An Garda Siochana and were allocated to Pearse Street Station.
Since then, women have made a crucial contribution to the organisation as well as society. Some of those first 12 female Garda, as well as women who have served in An Garda Siochana over the last 60 years, were in attendance at the Farmleigh commemoration.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris made an address as part of the event, which included a presentation on the history of women in An Garda Siochana, a panel discussion, and a keynote address by Ellen O'Malley Dunlop, Chairperson of the National Women's Council of Ireland.
"Sixty years ago these pioneers of policing in Ireland took the brave and honourable step of becoming a Garda and, in doing so, not only helped protect the communities they served, but also inspired many other women to follow in their footsteps," Commissioner Harris said Wednesday.
"We have come a long way since the first 12 women joined An Garda Siochana in July 1959. Female representation within the ranks of An Garda Síochana is strong. Women perform duty across the whole range of operational units and bureaus. Every day the women of An Garda Siochana make a positive difference to individuals and the communities this organisation serves across the country and further afield."
There are currently 3,780 females making up 27% of Garda members. This is above the European average for female representation within police services. In addition, 26% of the Garda reserve are female and 76% of Garda staff are also female.
"We have more to do. Not only do we need to encourage more women to join An Garda Síochána, we also need to continue to give female Gardai the encouragement and support to apply for specialist units, detective duties and promotion so we can continue to increase female representation across An Garda Siochana," Commissioner Harris said.
As part of this, the commissioner said An Garda Siochana would be establishing a Women's Network to support and encourage women in the advancement of their careers in the organisation. The Network will be chaired by Chief Superintendent Margaret Nugent.