Council representing Irish Sikhs describes issue as 'meaningless'
THE Garda ban on the wearing of the turban as part of its official uniform has opened up fresh divisions, this time within the Irish-Indian community itself.
The latest row centres on a letter sent to the Minister for Integration Conor Lenihan, in which the Ireland-India Council (IIC) dismisses the current row over the turban ban as "meaningless".
While Mr Lenihan -- who has already publicly stated his support for Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy's decision to ban the wearing of the turban by members of the force -- may be reassured by the show of support from the Irish-Indian organisation, it could yet pose a far greater difficulty for him in his role as Integration Minister.
Last night, President of the Irish Sikh Council, Harpreet Singh said his organisation had not been consulted by the IIC before it sent its letter to Mr Lenihan, or at any time prior to that in relation to the turban issue itself.
The IIC letter -- a copy of which has been seen by the Sunday Independent -- is bound to stir fresh controversy, and is almost certain to be raised by the Irish Sikh Council leadership when they meet with Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy this week to seek a reversal of the turban ban.
Addressing the issue of the ban in its letter to Integration Minister Conor Lenihan, the IIC's trustee and spokesman, Mr Prashant Shukla said: "The IIC consulted various Irish Indian groups across the State on the present turban issue.
"In these consultations it is clearly reflected that the issue raised by some members of the Sikh community in Ireland is unfortunate and defies logical understanding, as An Garda Siochana is already committed to making its police force multicultural. The present controversy only creates hindrances for wider integration issues."
Commenting on the matter of public demonstrations of faith which could be taken from allowing the wearing of religious symbols as part of the garda uniform, Mr Shukla defends the Garda Commissioner's decision further.
"We believe that religion and faith are very private aspects of an individual's life; their public demonstration may be offensive to others," he says.
The IIC trustee adds that members of the Sikh community have voluntarily restrained from wearing the turban, making the issue of the turban ban "meaningless". [Link]
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