By John Ensor •
Updated: 14 Aug 2023 • 18:25
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Is the Irish police force’s dress code out of touch with modern society? An Garda Síochána has come under fire for sending three trainees home from its training academy due to visible tattoos.
On July 31, three aspiring garda officers were among 175 recruits who arrived at the training college in Templemore, Co. Tipperary. They were sent home after it was found that they had tattoos on their lower arms, sparking a debate over the force’s seemingly archaic stance on body art, as reported by Extra ie.
The Irish Mirror reported that garda management had been in talks with the officers about continuing their training if they agreed to remove the tattoos. However, by the end of last week, the decision was made to suspend their training.
A Garda spokesman stated: ‘A number of Garda recruits have had their positions deferred pending their compliance with the uniform and dress code within An Garda Síochána. An Garda Síochána uniform and dress code is published on the Garda website and details are provided in the recruitment candidate information booklet.’
The recruitment booklet specifies: ‘Body art (tattoos) on the face, or visible above the collar, are not permitted. All other tattoos will be covered at all times while on duty, whether in uniform or plain clothes.’
This incident has led to criticism from several politicians. Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said: ‘We have less than 13,800 Gardaí in the force at present and are desperately trying to recruit more members. We should not be refusing entry into the force because trainees have lower-arm tattoos. The Garda dress and uniform code says that “Diversity requirements will be positively supported”. Young people frequently have tattoos and they should not be excluded from the force because of them. Instead, their diversity should be respected,’ he said.
Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty expressed her views on the matter: ‘Tattoos don’t have the reputation that they once had and our police force should be reflective of the people they serve. We shouldn’t be excluding the actual Irish community because someone has a tattoo on their arms or legs – it’s ridiculous.’
With a recruitment crisis looming, the decision to send home trainees for having tattoos has raised questions about whether the force’s dress code is in line with contemporary values. The debate continues as the force grapples with the challenge of modernising its image while maintaining its traditional standards.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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