05 Jul 2022

Non national Gardaí needed to serve multicultural Portlaoise town

Non national Gardaí needed to serve multicultural Portlaoise town

New Gardaí celebrating their graduations

Gardaí from different countries speaking a variety of languages are needed for Portlaoise, says Minister of State Sean Fleming TD.

The Laois TD made his suggestion to the Laois Garda Chief Superintendent, at this week's Joint Policing Committee meeting.

"Every time you get people out of Templemore, it is important that we get somebody not of Irish origin. There is a high population of people here who were not born in Ireland. It is important that the police force represents the population, as part of the integration process.

Chief Supt John Scanlan replied that he has Gardaí in Laois and nearby who can speak in several languages. 

""We have endeavoured as an organisation to take people in. You'll be happy to hear we have two non nationals here in Portlaoise. We have Olympia and Sebastian who was the subject of great praise here in local media for assistance he gave in a maternity case in the hospital. Olympia is attached to our community policing unit here. 

"That's to acknowledge that in the urban area of Portlaoise, 30% of the population is of non Irish origin. It's a good testament of Irish society that in a place like Portlaoise, you don't hear of the type of breakdown in relations that you would see in other jurisdictions, between people. They have assimilated reasonably well.

He said that multi language option was useful during the Covid pandemic.

"We have some nationalities in adjoining divisions for when we have to deal with victims. In fact, in the pandemic we were able to put six different nationalities into the meat factories, fluently spoken. For instance Portuguese. In making presentations to the meat factories in the earlier part of the pandemic where we were trying to get that social responsibilty message, they were relying on satellite television from their own countries for their approach to the pandemic which really didn't fit with our view. 

"I don't there's a public service that came to that table that had as varied a suite of languages available to its staff. We've had to deal with some very difficult situations for families, deaths and otherwise and we've always been successful in getting people with anything from Mandarin Chinese straight through. 

Chief Supt Scanlan had said that over 100 new Gardaí have been added to the Laois force in the past decade, but the county remains underresourced for Garda sergeants until the new year.

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