Information on language skills of Gardaí is “not readily available” according to a parliamentary question asked on behalf of Aengus Ó Maoláin, Social Democrat representative for Castleknock and Blanchardstown.

According to the Minister for Justice’s response to the question, asked by Róisín Shortall TD on behalf of Ó Maoláin, An Garda Síochána uses expensive interpreters in situations where language difficulties arise.

Aengus Ó Maoláin said, “as a representative in Ireland’s most diverse area, it is absolutely incomprehensible to me that there is obviously no interest in ensuring that our police can communicate with the whole community.”

“Dublin 15 is the most ethnically diverse area in Ireland, and while the vast majority of people speak English fluently, there are people who would be uncomfortable or incapable of communicating in English. Family members visiting their relatives here from abroad would have no-one to talk to in case something were to happen, and that is a barrier to the accessibility of the Gardaí.”

“While crime levels are low among new populations, I have come across offensive graffiti in languages other than English for one example, and worry that without any capacity to even notice this sort of stuff, that the problem may grow.”

Calling for the issue to be monitored, and language training to be included in training and continuing professional development for community police, Ó Maoláin said, “We need to move fully to a community policing model to ensure that everyone living here has the trust required in their local police, and that has to include some level of foreign language skills.”

ENDS

July 6 2017