Gardaí tonight defended its rule banning Sikh officers from wearing a turban on duty, claiming the force was not racist but trying to be impartial while providing a state service.
Controversy erupted earlier this week after a Sikh man, an IT professional in his 20s, began training to join the Garda Reserve.
Initially he was told wearing a turban would not be a problem but later a senior officer warned if he wanted to go on duty in a station, he would have to remove it, sparking criticism about the gardaí’s alleged outdated rules.
Superintendent Kevin Donohoe of the Garda Press Office said the force was not advocating one religious belief over another and that An Garda Síochána had an effective intercultural policy.
“There is no doubt that the Garda uniform and dress standards present unique issues in accommodating cultural diversity,” he said.
“These are challenges faced by all facets of Irish society as diversity and integration more and more become real issues.
“The Garda Síochána has, historically, been seen as providing an impartial police service, policing all sections of society equally.
“Accommodating variations to our standard uniform and dress, including those with religious symbolism, may well affect that traditional stance and give an image of An Garda Síochána which the Commissioner feels the public would not want.” [Link]
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