Address by Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan
6th European Gay Police Association Conference, Dublin Castle, 28th – 29th June 2012
Ladies and gentlemen,
I want to warmly welcome you all today to the 6th European Gay Police Association Conference 2012. Many of you have travelled some distance and I hope that you enjoy your stay in Dublin.
It is a privilege for me as Commissioner of An Garda Síochána to join you on this historic occasion - the launch of the first European Gay Police Association conference to be held in Ireland. This conference, in many ways, illustrates the efforts of many people through the Garda Diversity Strategy and otherwise to acknowledge and recognise diversity at both the individual and institutional level. An Garda Síochána fully recognises the value of human diversity to our organisation and the good that can accrue to us all when we see diversity as a strength to be utilised. That strength extends beyond the workplace into the community.
Policing is a public service to which every citizen is entitled to have access on an equal and fair basis. When people access or interact with a policing service, they are entitled to feel valued in that contact. They are entitled to be treated with respect and dignity and in a way that recognises their individual needs.
It is important therefore that we recognise that there is a link between our internal culture and treatment of each other in the work place and the quality and nature of the service we provide to the community. Our internal values can transfer to and impact on the way we interact externally.
A police service should value diversity – internally and externally – not least because of the valuable range of perspectives it offers us. By drawing on the skills, talents and experiences of our staff, we can improve the trust and confidence of our community in what we do and how we do it.
Respect for diversity therefore needs to be inherent, not just in our policies and procedures but in our culture and our actions.
I am proud to stand here today as Garda Commissioner, with members of the organisation I lead who feel confident to be open about their sexual orientation and identity in our workplace. I am equally conscious however that there are others who do not feel comfortable or able to be as open. If that is for reasons of privacy or otherwise, then it is a personal choice which we can all respect. However, if their reluctance flows from fear or anxiety on their part because of acts, omissions, attitudes, glances, or atmosphere in the workplace – then that is a challenge for us. And it is a challenge which we cannot afford to ignore.
If we don’t have a diverse workforce, if we don’t embrace and respect the diversity of our own staff and if we don’t engage effectively with all communities then we cannot police effectively.
The Organisation is currently working on implementing the Garda Síochána diversity Strategy, which includes all nine grounds of Diversity (as set out in our Equal Status Act 2001). These include Race, Religion, Gender, Membership of the Traveller Community, Age, Family Status, Marital Status, Disability and Sexual Orientation.
I am determined to drive this important agenda forward. We will ensure Diversity in An Garda Síochána is about harnessing the strengths inherent in difference and maximising the benefits both for those who work within An Garda Síochána and for the community who interact with us every day.
I sincerely hope that this conference can provide each delegate with the support and expertise you will need to progress the issues discussed at conference in your respective organisations.
I look forward to seeing the feedback from the workshops that will take place here over the next two days and I am sure that many of the lessons and experiences shared will provide material from which we in An Garda Síochána can benefit.
I would like to wish you my very best in that endeavour. It is a great honour for An Garda Síochána to be involved with this conference and I sincerely hope that the work done here will resonate across Europe in the year ahead. Thank you.