Garda Síochána Bill, 1958—Second and Subsequent Stages.

Wednesday, 4 June 1958

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 49 No. 6

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Question proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”

Minister for Justice (Mr. Traynor): Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I am sure that this Bill will be welcomed by the Members of this House. It is a simple Bill providing for the recruitment of women police, the need for which has been pressed for a good number of years, particularly by organisations of women social workers as desirable in dealing with women offenders and matters affecting children.

Immediately the Bill becomes law, it is the Government intention that arrangements will be completed for the recruitment of 12 women Gardaí for assignment in the Dublin Metropolitan Division. After a trial period, if they make good, as I have no doubt they will, further additions will be made to the force and women Gardaí will be assigned to other centres such as Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Galway, etc. It is a little bit soon yet to be talking of what may happen in the years ahead but that is our intention if the experimental force of 12 to be recruited this year fulfil satisfactorily the police duties now carried out by the ordinary Gardaí.

At this stage, I should make it clear, I think, that women Gardaí will be ordinary members of the force substituting for men and their appointment does not mean an increase in the overall strength of the force. Later on, as their numbers grow, some of them will probably get promotion to higher rank, but in all respects they will remain [590] part of the general police force and not as a separate entity within the force.

The selection of women for appointment to the new force will be entrusted to the Civil Service Commissioners who will hold a qualifying written examination similar to that prescribed for male candidates. The first examination will take place in the Autumn. The final placings of the candidates will be determined by an interview board who will see each qualified candidate and assess their merits giving credit for any special qualifications. It is also the intention that the candidates selected by the interview board will be required to pass a test in oral Irish before appointment.

Candidates will have to be at least five feet six inches in height and to be between 20 and 25 years of age. The pay will range from a minimum of £5 5s. to a maximum of £8 7s. 6d. and rent allowance, amounting to £46 9s. per annum, will be payable in addition. Retirement will be compulsory at 57 years of age, as for men, but a woman Garda may retire voluntarily, with appropriate pension, after 25 years. This is more favourable than for the men, who have to have completed 30 years service and to have reached the age of 50 before they can retire voluntarily. The woman Garda will be obliged to retire on marriage, but in that event she will, of course, receive a lump sum to help her on her way, on the same basis as a woman civil servant.

Some Members of the other House were inclined to suggest that the age limits of 20 to 25 years are too low and that women of more mature years would make more suitable police. However, the expert advice at my disposal is all in favour of recruitment within the age-group mentioned and I do not propose to depart from it, at least in this initial stage.

My own belief is that this is a development which is long overdue and that nothing but good can come from the assignment of women police to cases concerning women and children particularly where sex offences are involved. I am sure that the Seanad are no less happy than I am in the [591] promotion of an enactment of this character and I confidently recommend the Bill to the House.

Professor Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I certainly agree with the Minister that this is a most welcome Bill. After the complicated measure we have been discussing for more than two hours, it is also a very simple Bill. Simple as it is, it has taken a very long time to come. I have always been in favour of such a Bill and I remember a long time ago in University College, Miss Mary Hayden was continually bombarding the Irish members of the British Parliament about the addition of women police to the old Dublin Metropolitan Police. She was absolutely right and this is a very desirable measure.

It is worth remarking that the first movement in Europe which I know of which gave complete equality to women with men, without arguing about the principle at all, was the Gaelic League, which was established 65 years ago. That applies also to the Sinn Féin movement. It is rather extraordinary that we have waited until now to establish such a force. There is no doubt at all that in present conditions, or in any conditions, there should be women police. That is not merely because they are more gentle, or more knowledgeable in certain ways than men, but rather because in a great many instances women are much less gullible, and are more penetrating and swifter-thinking than men.

Nothing but good can come from the idea which the Minister has put forward. Like the members of the other House, I did think not so much that 20 was too low an age but that 25 was too low. However, I take it that the expert advice which the Minister has received shows that in other cases where women police were recruited, this is the appropriate age group. He is probably right in following that advice. This Bill is merely an experimental Bill and when he has recruited some women, he can make up his mind what he wants to do in the future.

The provision that on retirement they may retire with an appropriate pension is very sound. I think also the provision that women get a marriage [592] gratuity on the same lines as in the Civil Service is also very good. I hope the Civil Service Commission, when appointing these women, will have women on the board. I myself would prefer married women on such boards. That is, of course, a matter of detail. I welcome the Bill and wish it well and I hope that the experiment will be extended to other places outside Dublin, but it is quite a good idea to begin in Dublin.

Miss Davidson: Information on Mary Frances Davidson  Zoom on Mary Frances Davidson  I should like to add my welcome to this Bill for the setting up of a women's police force. It is a wise and much-needed measure and the Minister deserves our thanks for having introduced it. As time goes on, I have no doubt the value of the force will manifest itself clearly and I am sure there will be requests for its extension outside Dublin.

The call for the recruitment of women police in this country is not a recent one and over the years the need for such a force has increased, particularly for cases involving women and young persons, especially young girls. In other countries, where women have been a normal part of the police force for years, their work is highly valued in dealing with certain types of lawbreakers as well as in the detection of crime.

In the matter of the recruitment ages, I feel, like the members in the other House, that the limits are too low — 20 years of age is rather young to begin and 25 too young to close recruitment: I would rather have seen the ages as 25 and 35 but the Minister has indicated he will look at this point later on.

The Minister has stated that the women police recruits will be given general police training and may be required to do police duties which women would be capable of doing. He also mentioned, in the Dáil, that it was the view of the Carrigan Committee that while the duties of the policewomen would primarily be concerned with matters affecting children and young women and girls, they should be given wide experience and should, as far as possible, be employed on the same duties as their male colleagues. The [593] Minister then said: “We are, in effect, adopting the recommendations contained in the report of that committee.” From this, it would appear that the new force will do largely the same work and bear the same risks as their men colleagues and I think it would be appropriate here to ask the Minister to apply, after the training and probationary period, the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

I do not know what training in psychology is given to the Garda Síochána but I would suggest to the Minister, if it is not already his plan to do so, that the recruits to this new force should be given special psychiatric training and particularly training in child guidance for which latter study there exist ample facilities in at least one clinic in Dublin where the student police women could attend for lectures and demonstrations.

There is a very wide field in police work for adequately trained women, and, as experience is gained and recruitment extended, it will be found that the opening of the ranks to the women has had a good effect on young people. Having experienced the sympathetic, understanding approach of properly trained policewomen, they will most likely turn to them for advice and guidance which will keep them on the right path in life. I have always felt that if children could be taught to look upon the police as their friends and guardians, and not as a force for exacting punishment on all occasions, many juveniles would be saved from developing into undesirable citizens. I am convinced that this women's police force will manifest its value and that its work will show in a lessening of the number of young offenders coming before the courts.

Mention was made in the Dáil that the street work of the women police would cease at 8 p.m. I think it would be a mistake to make this regulation and to withdraw the women members from street duty at such an early hour. I realise that late street work could only be undertaken after the policewomen had been fully trained and had gained experience perhaps by working in partnership with a male Garda for a specified period, but 8 p.m. is too [594] early an hour to close the street duty of policewomen.

Apart from the more obvious offenders who appear at dusk or in darkness, many children unfortunately roam the streets unaccompanied up to a very much later hour than 8 p.m. and many young girls attending cinema performances and dances start a long walk home at 10.30 p.m. or later. If such an early ending of duty is contempleted, I would ask the Minister to reconsider the point.

I was glad to learn that the Minister is continuing in their employment the women police assistants who, working in co-operation with the ordinary Gardaí, have rendered valuable services to the force over many years.

I agree with the members who have pressed for the provision of a smart, serviceable and distinctive uniform for the women police and great care should be taken to produce an outfit that will indicate and inspire respect for the vocation and authority of the wearer. It is a most important matter that from their first appearance the new force should be well and appropriately uniformed because any opportunity for levity or ridicule about the uniform would have a devastating effect on the self-confidence of, and respect for, the new force.

It is, I am sure unnecessary to emphasise that the materials used for the entire outfit, from cap to shoes, should be exclusively Irish manufacture and that the design should be that of an Irish designer. If time permitted, designs might be asked from the tailoring trade sections of the various vocational schools throughout the country and perhaps a prize offered for the accepted design. Our craftsmen can produce the materials and there are competent Irish hands to make the uniform. We do a lot of advertising for Irish goods and I feel we should fit our Irish women police in a manner that will exhibit just how good are our Irish materials and workmanship.

Tourist guide books could direct attention to the uniform of the Irish policewomen, stressing its wearing qualities and its eye-appeal. This [595] would serve a two-fold purpose — to advertise Irish materials and Irish workmanship and, by impressing on the policewomen that their uniforms are under constant observation from visitors and others, to ensure a smart, well-groomed force.

In conclusion, I repeat our welcome to the Bill and our hope that before long the work performed by the women members of our police force will result in its extension to other areas with, as a result, fewer juvenile delinquents and better citizenship all round.

Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Information on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Zoom on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  I should like to add my support to those who welcomed the Bill. I agree with Senator Hayes when he says it is long overdue, but I am a bit puzzled at his suggestion that he has no idea why it was so delayed. He probably remembers as well as I do that under the Coalition Government questions were put down again and again, and the Minister said: “The matter is still ‘under consideration’”. It came to the point when one of the Coalition supporters, a Labour Deputy, in exasperation said that if the Minister was not careful he would no longer be the Minister when the Bill was brought in. That in fact has come to pass. Senator Hayes ought to be in a position to know what it was that so terrified the Coalition out of bringing in this admirable measure. The present Government and the Minister are to be congratulated on having the courage apparently necessary — although I do not see why it required so much courage — to bring in this excellent measure.

This is a civilised Bill and indicates that we as a nation are beginning to grow up. Previously, we have been terrified by this kind of thing. We hide our fears behind jokes about women police, and our attitude has been childish. I hope the “juvenile delinquents” among our adult population will also benefit by the introduction of this measure.

The measure of success achieved will depend to a great extent upon the pay and the conditions offered. I am afraid [596] the pay being offered is insufficient. The sum of 5 gns. a week during the training period may seem all right, but the grand maximum of £8 7s. 6d. for the fully trained woman police officer does not seem to me to be high enough, and I think the Minister will have to reconsider that at an early date. Admittedly an allowance is added to that, presumably a uniform allowance, of nearly £1 a week, but I still consider that to make too low a maximum figure.

On the question of conditions, I should like also to express the hope that the Irish language condition of service will not be pressed too severely. Seeing that for the appointment to other branches of the Civil Service, the Irish language qualification is considered necessary, it would be invidious to disregard it altogether in this new recruitment. However, we ought to remember that many of us would be excluded from the Oireachtas were such a test to be applied to us. Therefore I suggest that the Irish test should not be held at too high a level, lest women recruits of very high qualifications be excluded on grounds not immediately connected with the majority of the duties that will have to be performed.

Linked with the question of pay is the question of conditions. It is impossible for the Minister now to go into any detail about conditions of service, but on a previous occasion when we are dealing with the Bill to grant the Minister the right to hold prisoners in Civic Guard barracks for a maximum of more than five days, I took the opportunity of going around and seeing for myself the material conditions obtaining in some of these Civic Guard barracks, the Bridewell, Store Street, Pearse Street, Terenure and Rathmines.

I think the new women recruits are in for a considerable shock when they see the conditions of squalor which our ordinary Civic Guards are expected to put up with. The Civic Guards have a lot to do, and they do it well. I feel, however, that they have been too patient in regard to certain things. [597] My hope is that the women police will not be so patient, and will indicate to those concerned that the conditions under which the Civic Guards are expected to live, and have their meals, are not such as should be tolerated in the police force of a civilised country.

I have seen dining-rooms and kitchens — I will not name any specific barracks as being extraordinarily bad — in which the conditions are not such as would make any member of the Oireachtas proud to see them tomorrow. My hope will be that the influence of the women guards on such things will be as beneficial as it will be upon our more juvenile delinquents. I am convinced that if in relation to conditions and pay we treat these women well, they will make a splendid addition to our Garda Síochána Force.

The Minister has referred to training. I would hope that the opportunity will be taken to allow these women to get some of their training outside this country either in Britain or in some of the continental countries where women police have been operating for some years. The British Women's Police Force is an admirable one, and I hope we shall not be ashamed to learn from them, when we are taking this first very valuable step.

I was pleased Senator Hayes paid tribute to the work of the late Professor Mary Hayden. Many of the women associated with her, and with the various Irish women's movements concerned would feel proud to-day, were they here, that an Irish Government has, even at this late date, introduced this measure. We should not fail to mention the long and persistent work done by the Joint Committee of Women's Societies here in Dublin. They have shown almost infinite patience and understanding of the problem, and also very great persistence in trying to see that this very valuable measure would at last be put on the Statute Book. I, therefore, conclude by congratulating the Government and the Minister, and by saying that I think he, they and we can feel justifiably proud of this measure.

Mr. Colley: Information on Harry Colley  Zoom on Harry Colley  I regard this measure as [598] a very interesting experiment, an experiment on which we should have embarked years ago. But it is better late than never. I believe it will be a great success and will be of great assistance in dealing with certain cases which arise from time to time. One of the faults I have to find with it is that it is being confined to Dublin. It should be tried out somewhere else as well. I should like to see it tried in every city, but at least it should also be tried in Cork. It would cost very little more to train 24 girls instead of 12. As the Minister told us, they are replacing Gardaí in the ordinary way and there would not be any extra cost.

I am a bit doubtful about the age. I think it is a bit too low. There may be some difficulty with such a low age limit. You may not be able to get the proper type of girl. I hope the expert advice the Minister mentioned is correct but I would fix the age limit a bit higher. I congratulate the Minister on introducing this measure. We know such measures have been successful in other countries and I am sure that in a few years' time we will be able to look back on the success of the scheme here.

Mr. Cole: Information on John Copeland Cole  Zoom on John Copeland Cole  The Minister is starting out with a completely new idea and I would urge him not to recruit fully his 12 members at the start. Instead, he should accept a larger force for a long probationary period. I am sure he will have a lot of applicants, and that will provide him with a golden opportunity of selecting a very fine force from the beginning. I would urge him, even after recruitment, interviews and whatever tests there may be, not to make them fully-fledged members of the force for at least a year.

We have no experience here. It will take some experience to train these young girls and to see how they will behave themselves, as it were, under fire. The Minister should consider recruiting temporarily a larger force for the first year's training and then weed them out. I take it the force will have ranks the same as in the ordinary Guards? There will be sergeants and possibly higher ranks. It will be only after long experience that it will be [599] seen which of the 12 can be picked out for superior rank.

These girls will be under 25 years of age. I take it that one or two of them will eventually gain higher rank and I think the Minister should put in a saving clause empowering him to recruit someone who might offer herself, having had experience in some other police force or in some capacity here which would make her an asset to the force. She might have the experience which would qualify her to become the leader of the force. There should be at least one superior officer who would not alone control the force, but would act as a link between the women and the men. I take it the Minister visualises the growth of the force and its spread to other cities and towns. From that point of view, he should recruit as many as possible at the start and provide for the appointment of a superior officer, an experienced woman officer, either in our own police force or in some other police force.

Mr. Donegan: Information on Patrick S. Donegan  Zoom on Patrick S. Donegan  I welcome this Bill. Speakers here to-day have expressed very pious hopes in regard to it. They have spoken of it as if it were born out of the mind of the Minister. The truth is that this Bill was born as the result of very untimely and, in my opinion, very undignified agitation in Dublin in 1955 and 1956 — a period in which the agitators would have been better occupied in doing something worth while for the country. At the time, we had an extreme balance of payments situation and were in the throes of the greatest economic crisis the nation has ever known.

Instead of helping the Government — let us forget which Government it was — these people, whom I describe simply and solely as crackpots, were agitating to stop the export of horses, No. 1, and for a women's police force, No. 2. Now, let us be truthful, honest and fair. Those are the facts. I do not for a moment suggest that a bunch of crackpots cannot put up an excellent case — in my opinion, they did — but, at the same time, I am not hypocrite enough to come in here to-day and say this Bill is an excellent step, that it is [600] something that should have happened 20 years ago; that it is wonderful and that we must congratulate the Minister.

The truth of the matter is that, away back in 1956, the Cabinet were involved in much more serious considerations than the establishment of a women's police force. In one constituency at least, these two issues were used to very good effect in a certain way. Then a new Minister arrived and, in his wisdom, decided to bring in the necessary legislation — to make the mess of pottage and found the women's police force.

Now, having said all that, I agree that this force should be established. At the same time, I think these things should be said. This Assembly should not be a sanctum in which one's mind should never be spoken and in which everything that is all right is said and heard and everything that is wrong is forgotten. We would not be deserving of our positions as Senators if we did not occasionally say what we thought.

Having disposed of the origin of the force, I am nauseated by this business of an oral Irish test. All things being equal, I would give the first position to the candidate who can speak Irish. Is it not a mockery to think that of all those who sit here more than 50 per cent, cannot speak Irish? Thanks to Providence, I was young enough to have the advantage of learning Irish at school and I can speak Irish. More than 50 per cent. of those who sit here cannot. Yet, we take it upon ourselves to make provisions which might have the result of excluding the best. If we think so little of it, why do we make these binding provisions on others? Let us, by all means, give ten or 20 extra marks for facility in speaking Irish. Let us put up the jumps and let the girls take them. But do not exclude people because they cannot pass a test in oral Irish.

This force should have been established long ago. Do not think that because I spoke as I did at the outset and said what I thought about its birth that I wish to hinder its establishment in any way. Like other speakers, I think the Minister has not gone far enough with regard to the pay provisions [601] and with regard to promotion. I agree with Senator Cole on that point. I am not, however, smug enough or hypocrite enough to allow the Bill to pass without saying what I think.

Professor Stanford: Information on William Bedell Stanford  Zoom on William Bedell Stanford  It would be a very great pity if the House took Senator Donegan's remarks as the ultimate truth to be expressed on the origins of this force. It would be most regrettable if they were accepted as fact. The Senator's ebullient enthusiasm for his Party has led him to falsify history in a very marked way.

The fact is that this force is partly the result, as Senator Sheehy Skeffington has pointed out, of the devoted and very prudent efforts of women, and of men who supported women's rights, over the last 30 or 40 years. It is not simply the result of an agitation in 1956, and it is utterly absurd to suggest anything of the kind.

There is, too, the practical point that this is the Minister who has introduced this Bill. I shall not go into any reasons as to why other Ministers did not do so. But we are grateful to him and to the present Government for taking this desirable step and we regret that previous Ministers and former Governments did not take this desirable step.

This Bill, together with the recent decision to allow married women to continue as primary teachers, seems to me to indicate something like what we were talking about earlier this afternoon — a liberalising tendency. There seems to be some desire in this country to narrow such “liberalising” to matters of commerce and economics. I think this is an example of the right kind of liberalisation, and the Minister, and those who have been working for so long outside Leinster House, deserve considerable praise for this success. I hope we shall have other developments of this kind.

I think this Bill had some hidden prejudices to overcome in various quarters. I am glad those prejudices have been overcome and I hope that, where similar prejudices hold back other intentions of this kind or character, they will be equally successfully overcome.

[602] As a practical matter, I should like to support Senator Miss Davidson's plea for equal pay for equal work. If these women do as much work as the men, then they should get equal pay. It will discourage them if they do not. Their task will be a difficult one, and they need all the encouragement we can give them.

I was also very glad to hear Senator Miss Davidson's plea for a really smart and effective uniform. It is not a small thing. It is the kind of thing that a completely male Assembly would be inclined to overlook. But it will be a matter of great importance both for the morale of the women police themselves and for the prestige of the force amongst our own citizens and amongst visitors.

I urge the Minister, though perhaps a feminine Minister might be more disposed to take trouble in this matter, to spend a good deal of time and trouble over the uniform. It will be a very great help.

Finally, having, I hope, disposed of Senator Donegan's theory about the origins of this force, I should like to end by once again congratulating the Minister and those who helped him to come to this decision.

Pádraig Ó Siochfhradha: Information on Padraig An Seabhac O Siochfhradha  Zoom on Padraig An Seabhac O Siochfhradha  Do réir mar bhraithim ar chaint na Seanadóirí ar fuaid an Tí táthar go maith sásta leís an mBille seo atá ós ár gcómhair chun Banghardaí a cheapadh na ngnáthphóilíní sa chathair anso. Ba ró-mhithíd é sin a dhéanamh agus molaim-se an tAire agus an Rialtas a chinn ar an gcéim chun cinn sin a thabhairt. Tá súil agam go n-éireoidh leis an iarracht. Im thuairim-se tá gá leis na Banghardaí sin sa tsaol nua-aimseartha na mairimíd anois. Mar aon leis sin, agus mar céim ar aghaidh sa tsoisialachas nuashaoil, molaim é, agus is dóigh liom leis gur maise agus slacht ar chóras na cathrach an gasra ban san ag gabháil ortha féin agus ag riar agus ag cosaint phobail Átha Cliath.

Mar chomhairle uaim féin déarfainn leis an Aire nach féithleoga agus cnámh agus neart coirp amháin ba chóir a éileamh ar an ngasra ban a [603] toghfar. Eiligheadh sé, leis, stuaim, éirim aigne agus ciall — agus oiriúnaíocht don phost. B'áil linn uile bheith mórtasach as éifeacht agus oilteacht na mBanghardaí nua so agus tá súil agam go dtiocfaidh ár ndóchas ionta i gcrích.

I dtaobh ceist na dteorann aoise—ar an chéad amhrac shíleas gur mós íseal iad. Ach i bhfianaise na fírinne atá ann is baol go mbíonn mná óga de ghnáth imithe le gairmibh eile san aois fiche blian nó go mbíonn siad socraithe feasta i slí bheatha éigin eile—ar slí bheatha éigin a bhíonn leagaithe amach dóibh ag a muintir. Bheadh sé deacair cailíní dhá bhlian fichead nó cúig mblian fichead d'fháil, agus b'fhéidir go bhfuil comh maith againn an aois d'fhágaint ar fiche bliain, agus braith ar thréineáil a thabhairt dóibh óna n-óige a dhéanfaidh lánoiriúnach, oilte don obair iad. Nílim cinnte go bhfuil an aois fiche-bliain ró íseal. Caithfimíd bheith sásta leis nuair ná beidh daoine níos foirfe san aois le fáil.

Tagradh do coinníoll na Gaeilge a bheith ag gabháil le ceapadh na mban so. Ní mór ná gur cáineadh í. Fonn a mholta go hárd atá ormsa. Táim-se, comh maith le mílte eile daoine ar fuaid na tíre, mí-shásta, tuirseach de staid an scéil mar atá i dtaobh úsáid na Gaeilge i gcás a lán d'oifigigh agus seirbhísigh phoiblí a castar linn. Nuair is gá dúinn labhairt le Garda Síochána nó stiúrthóir busa nó seirbhísigh phoiblí eile is ró mhinic a chaithimíd Béarla a labhairt le cuid mhór aca. Is col ar ár gceart é sin agus ba mhithid deireadh a bheith leis mar scéal. Ní haon choinníoll mhí-réasúntá ar aon oifigeach poiblí go gcaithfidh sé caint agus gnáthcomhrá Gaeilge a bheith ar a chumas. Nílim ar aon aigne leis na daoine a cháin an choinníoll, ach molaim é agus sílim ná beidh sé deacair daoine oiriúnacha d'fháil fiú fén gcionníoll sin i leith Gaeilge atá beartaithe don chrapacháin. Molaim an Bille agus an tAire a cheap an iarracht. Go n-éirí leis an iarracht.

Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

[604]Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  I should like to avail myself of the opportunity of joining in the welcome to this Bill so ably and so nicely expressed by most of the Senators who spoke here to-day. It is a source of considerable satisfaction to me that this Bill has at last been introduced, because although we were one of the first countries in Europe in the days of the Gaelic League and Sinn Féin to accord equal rights and status to women, we have, I am afraid, lagged a long way behind in the years that have passed since those days. We have lagged behind, not because of lack of legislation in many respects but because there appeared to be, and still is, a very serious anti-feminist bias in our people and in many of our public movements and organisations.

I, therefore, see in this Bill a further step towards according to women the full rights which are their due and a further step in educating our people into a realisation that the clock has gone around very swiftly since that Derby day many years ago when a suffragette drew public attention to the claims of women to the vote on the racecourse on Epsom Downs. In recent years, we have all seen, in most countries of Europe, women taking their full part not alone in the factories but on the battle fields, on the war fronts and we have seen across the water, in our neighbouring island, schoolgirls, young women playing a most notable part in the defence of that island against air attack and the possibilities of invasion. They relieved the men and thereby provided manpower for the British forces in their life and death battle in the Second World War. They played a most creditable part in every country in Europe which was involved in the war and in the Far East, too.

It is very pleasing to me personally, because I am a convinced believer in equal rights and opportunities for women, that we are to accord to them, in regard to one important public service, the right which they have been denied up to the present moment.

Some Senators here have spoken of the age limits in this Bill and have spoken as though nothing had happened [605] in the world in the past 20 years. They said the age of 20, or even 25, was too young. They seem to forget that the women of this country in the days of the War for Independence, wherever they were called on to do so, or wherever they got the opportunity of doing so, played as good a part as did the men and showed no less competence and courage in dealing with the situations as they arose. I have no doubt whatever that they will be quite capable of providing for our police force recruits and eventually trained women Gardaí of whom this nation can be proud.

As I say, I regard this as a most important step forward, because we have to a certain extent to kill the anti-feminist bias which still exists. I look forward to the day when we will have in our Government women Cabinet Ministers. Every piece of legislation of this nature which accords women equal rights with men is a step forward towards an enlightened democracy in which all citizens will not alone be expected to accept responsibility but will be accorded the right to accept responsibilities.

I disagree completely with Senator Cole in his suggestion that these Gardaí should be recruited on a temporary basis. If I understood him rightly, he suggested that they should be kept on for six months and then, if found unsuitable, they should be let go. I do not think he would make a similar suggestion in the case of men and I object to the discrimination which would be exercised in that way, if this new membership of the Garda Síochána were to be treated as suggested.

I have to disagree, too, with Senator Sheehy Skeffington in his belief that the insistence upon an oral Irish test for recruits might lose us valuable material. The age limits are from 20 to 25 and any girl of 20 at the present moment in this country who is not able to pass the moderate oral Irish test which is asked for in a public examination certainly, in my opinion, would not furnish the proper material for the Garda Síochána.

There is another thing that must be [606] said and it is time it were said. I do not see for a moment why we should continue to tolerate the idea that Irish speakers must put up with English speaking officials. If Irish speakers form part of this country and they do —and, please God, they will continue to do so in ever increasing numbers— they are as much entitled to get their business done through Irish and to have questions answered for them in Irish as the English speakers. It is only right and proper that in every branch of the public service the officials should be competent to answer a question of an Irish-speaking citizen in the language in which it is addressed to him. I have no doubt whatever that material will be found amongst those girls who have a competent knowledge of the language and who will possess the other qualifications that may be decided upon for membership of the Garda Síochána.

There was one unpleasant note struck in an otherwise very fine debate. It was struck by Senator Donegan whose remarks, in my opinion, were very correctly characterised by Senator Stanford when he said that Senator Donegan had falsified history in a very marked degree. I personally protest in the strongest possible manner against the statement that this Bill was born as a result of untimely and undignified agitation in Dublin in 1955 or 1956 by a bunch of crackpots. The ladies who formed the committee in Dublin and in other centres in Ireland, not in 1955 or 1956 but for many years before that, from the day Countess Markievicz was elected as the first M.P. to Parliament in these islands to get equal rights for women, were no crackpots. They gave unselfish public service to bring to the notice of the people and the Government a want in our administration which they thought required to be filled. It is most improper and undignified for any member of this House to use such an insulting term in regard to the committee which was urging the Government of the day to implement the proposal for a women's police force here.

Senator Donegan went a little further than that, however. He made some veiled reference to the use in a [607] certain constituency in a certain manner of something connected with the women's police force. He left it to be inferred that there was something “phoney” or “hookey” about the whole proposal. I sincerely hope that if Senator Donegan cannot control his impulse to avail of every opportunity to make political capital or political speeches, at least he will endeavour on a Bill of this nature to apply himself to the splendid idea which the Bill embodies and leave out of the reckoning other questions which can be better dealt with on the many other measures of a political nature which come before this House.

He also said in regard to the oral Irish test that he was nauseated by it. He is one of the people who criticise what he describes as the failure to make progress in the revival of Irish as a spoken language. He is a young man. He admits to a knowledge of the Irish language, and on every opportunity he avails himself of the chance to sneer at it and to ridicule it in public.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Would the Senator have some common sense?

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  It is no wonder that progress is so slow. It is no wonder that those of us who believe in the revival of the Irish language are compelled to use strong terms in dealing with criticism of that nature.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  The Senator ought to have common sense anyway.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  I hope Senator Donegan will think of himself before making statements of that type in the future. It is of particular pleasure to me to see this Bill introduced here. It does not matter who introduced it or what Government introduced it, but I am very pleased it is the Fianna Fáil Government and that it fell to the Minister for Justice, Deputy Traynor, to do so. It is a great step forward. It is particularly pleasing to me personally, having listened to Senator Donegan's remarks, to remember what a far cry it is from those days 21 years ago, when the Constitution was being put before the people, when people [608] like Senator Donegan were telling us that if it were passed women would be driven out of all public appointments and not entitled to work.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Sin deire na h-óráide sin, a cháirde.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Dein cheann tú féin anois.

Dr. O'Donovan: Information on John O'Donovan  Zoom on John O'Donovan  Is féidir liom.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I am naturally very glad and happy at the reception given to this Bill not alone in this House, but also in the Dáil upon the occasion of its introduction there. It received the same acclamation there as here. My pleasure at the manner in which it was received here was accentuated by reason of the fact that I am personally acquainted with the long and hard struggle which the women's societies referred to by Senators had in order to bring about this discussion. The Bill itself is now almost an accomplished fact.

I claim no recognition, good, bad or indifferent, for introducing the Bill. I am very happy to have been the instrument which brought it about. The only thing I can claim is that from the beginning I was sympathetically disposed towards it. I urged my colleagues in the Government to permit me to bring in this Bill and I am happy to be in the position I am in this evening of being able to say that the Bill, as I mentioned a moment ago, is almost an accomplished fact.

Like Senator Ó Maoláin, I feel that the women will succeed in making this force all that everyone of us here would wish it to be. I have sufficient faith in the ability of women to carry out as effectively as men any task imposed upon them. Therefore, I have no doubt that this experiment, which is all that this can be described as at the moment, will succeed. I know I am expressing the belief of my colleagues in this House and in the House below when I say that the experiment will be a success.

Senator Hayes said that he hoped there would be a woman on the interview board. It is my hope also. That [609] will be a matter for the Civil Service Commissioners. I have no doubt that they will take into account that the selection of women police is a matter in which women selectors would be particularly suitable.

Senator Miss Davidson and other Senators expressed the desire that the women should receive equal pay with the male Gardaí. There again I could say that I would be quite prepared to support that eventually but the position is that we have not yet reached that happy stage where equal pay for women and men has been accepted generally in the State. It is something that will, perhaps, be achieved in time. I have no doubt that if the same tenacity as the ladies displayed in respect of this Bill is displayed in respect of the right of women to receive equal pay, it will in course of time be successful.

I hope I am not misinterpreting Senator Miss Davidson when I say that she thought that women should not be employed after 8 p.m.

Miss Davidson: Information on Mary Frances Davidson  Zoom on Mary Frances Davidson  No, I argued that they should be employed after that hour.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  That was my impression. Perhaps the most valuable work that a woman police force could participate in is work after that hour and if women are to be equal in pay, equal in other rights, they will have to be prepared to take equal risks——

Miss Davidson: Information on Mary Frances Davidson  Zoom on Mary Frances Davidson  Yes.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  ——and equally difficult tasks as the men. I believe that they would be anxious to assure all and sundry that they are prepared to undertake equally difficult tasks and to share with their male comrades the risks and the duties which will devolve upon them in the course of time.

Miss Davidson: Information on Mary Frances Davidson  Zoom on Mary Frances Davidson  Did the Minister contemplate introducing regulations to finish the work of women police at 8 p.m.?

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  The Bill, as Senators will notice, is a one clause Bill, which merely gives the State the right to recruit [610] women. That is all that is contained in the Bill. Everything else is governed by regulations.

Miss Davidson: Information on Mary Frances Davidson  Zoom on Mary Frances Davidson  That is what I thought.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  Regulations can be introduced to deal with any difficulties that arise or that should be dealt with from one point of view or another.

The Senator also referred to the uniform. Everybody will be concerned about the cut and type of uniform. It is my opinion and I am sure that of all members of the House that if the women Garda feel that they are well dressed, they will feel more efficient and more competent to do the type of work they are undertaking. Already, there have been some experiments which have been unsuccessful so far. The types of uniform modelled have not been considered acceptable. We are actually dealing with that matter. We have inspected the uniforms of a number of women police forces and we want to improve upon them, if possible. I think we will eventually improve on the uniforms at present worn in other forces.

I do not think it is necessary for me to deal with Senator Sheehy Skeffington's remarks on the question of the language as they have been dealt with so ably by Senator Ó Maoláin. Senator Sheehy Skeffington also said that he was not happy about the pay. It is a good wage at the present time for a young woman who is not doing too badly with a wage of £7 10s. or so. There is nothing final about that. In the course of time, I have no doubt that the pay will be increased, just as I hope that the same will apply to the male members of the Garda Síochána.

Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Information on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Zoom on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  It is very responsible work.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  It is very responsible work but, as I said in the beginning, we are in the experimental stage and will have to bear with a lot of petty difficulties until such time as we have established the force to such a degree that we can say that from our experience the wage is not sufficient and should be increased. At the same time, [611] £8 7s. 6d., which is the maximum, is not a bad wage but there is nothing final about it. It can be increased.

Like Senator Sheehy Skeffington, I visited a number of police barracks in the city. I made a tour of quite a large number. Like the Senator, I was very far from happy about what I saw. I want, first of all, to disabuse the Senator of his fears that these ladies will be living in these barracks. They will not. They will be living outside in their own homes or, like many business girls, in “digs” or hostels, or wherever they wish and in respect of which they will receive a lodging allowance. I have already taken what I consider are appropriate steps to try to have the conditions in barracks altered and improved and have already mentioned the fact to the members of the Government in council.

Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Information on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Zoom on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Good.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  Senator Sheehy Skeffington also suggested that we should provide for training outside the country. That possibility could be considered. I have no doubt that it has been considered already. It is something that probably will be adopted at a later stage, just as the Army officers are sent out on courses to various countries, not necessarily one or two countries, but wherever they can get the desired type of training. It does not matter whether they find it in England, France or America, wherever they get the type of training they need, that is where they will go.

Mr. Tunney: Information on James Tunney  Zoom on James Tunney  I hope the Minister will never consider sending the ladies for training outside.

Dr. Sheehy Skeffington: Information on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Zoom on Owen Lancelot Sheehy Skeffington  Why not? This is the first time in this country that we are to have a women's police force. They should not be ashamed to learn from outside.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  I hope we will always be in a position to learn wherever we can get the best training.

Some Senators expressed the fear that the ages fixed are too low. These [612] ages were fixed after long consideration at a conference of senior officers. It is believed the ages fixed are those at which recruits are most alert in mind — the candidates will not be long out of school. They will be most impressionable and will be able to accept the type of training they will get and generally they will be more adaptable than if we were to go beyond the present age limits. We must always remember that this is an experiment, one which I hope will succeed, but still an experiment, and in the course of time we shall see the weaknesses and the strength of it and profit by the knowledge we gain.

I think it was Senator Cole who referred to the desirablity of having a probationary period. There is such a period at present in the Garda Síochána. After recruitment, a young Garda is trained and sent out and he has to do a period of two years during which, if he is found unsuitable and not of the type to make an efficient Garda, his services can be dispensed with. The same regulation will apply to the women police force. If it is found that anyone is unlikely to make a suitable policewoman, she will be notified in due course during her probationary period to that effect.

The Irish language question has been ably dealt with by Senator Ó Maoláin, but the fact is that this State has now been 36 years in being. The girls we are bringing in between the ages of 20 and 25 were born between 1933 and 1938 and to those of us who are pretty well advanced, those years are only a stone's throw away. Surely those girls who were brought up in schools where the Irish language was taught them as part of the curriculum will have a sufficient knowledge of Irish to pass a simple written test and an oral test. I believe it is absolutely necessary to have such a test to ensure that a young girl or man in the Garda Síochána should be capable of answering questions in Irish, especially when they are asked by people coming in from outside.

It is a remarkable fact that there are more American people coming in here than we might believe who can [613] talk Irish and these people love to demonstrate that they know Irish by putting questions in Irish to those they meet. We have found that to be the case from experience and I think it would redound to the credit of the country if our women police are capable of answering questions of that kind efficiently. I do not think anybody can say there is anything wrong in such a requirement.

In conclusion, I want to say how grateful I am for the remarks which have been made on all sides of the House. I know I am expressing the wishes of every member of the Seanad and every member of the Dáil when I say: Godspeed to this experiment. We all wish it the success it should have in the course of time.

Question put and agreed to.

Agreed to take remaining stages to-day.

Bill considered in Committee.

Question proposed: “That Section 1 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  Arising out of what the Minister has said in relation to equal pay, he has indicated the general position that we have not yet reached the stage here where we recognise that equal pay should be given to men and women doing the same work. I think progress along that line has been made in the public services in Great Britain. But, as Senators pointed out, the work of the women Gardaí will be very onerous in the physical sense and equally so in the sense that it will involve a degree of responsibility. They will be doing practically the same kind of work as male police officers.

I think in certain branches of the public service, if the Minister examines the position, he will find that if men and women are doing exactly the same work in a particular vocation, they are paid at the same rate. I am going on recollection, but I think the Minister will find that happens in the broadcasting service, if I am not mistaken. I believe women are paid at the same rate as men, for the reason that it takes a woman to do a woman's part in a [614] play, as it takes a man to do a man's part.

In regard to the police force, the very intention in establishing it sprang from the desirability that women should do a particular type of duty and it seems to me if I am right in my recollection — and I speak subject to correction — that if this is so, there is a case here where the Minister could pay equal rates for men and women without prejudice to the general policy. I would suggest that this matter should be looked into.

Tomás Ó Maoláin: Information on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  Zoom on Thomas Lincoln Mullins  They do not pay men and women announcers in Radio Eireann equal rates, but it may be the case in the drama section.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  That is what I had in mind. Women must do women's parts in drama, and I think it is analogous.

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  As far as I know, the Senator is not correct. Generally, in the Civil Service, the position is that rates of pay for male workers are different from those for female workers. One has only to examine the Book of Estimates to see that.

Mr. O'Quigley: Information on John Benignus OQuigley  Zoom on John Benignus OQuigley  I am aware of the general situation.

Mr. Cole: Information on John Copeland Cole  Zoom on John Copeland Cole  Is there anything to stop women rising to the rank of superintendent?

Mr. Traynor: Information on Oscar Traynor  Zoom on Oscar Traynor  Nothing at all. We are recruiting men and women on the same basis. Women will be entitled to all promotions available just as men are but, of course, because of the very small number of women it will probably be a considerable time before any of them are in the happy position of reaching the higher posts. I want to do everything possible to see that the nucleus we start with will be extended to the various places I mentioned in my remarks, namely, Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Galway. Actually, I agree with Deputy Colley when he said that he thought the experiment would have been more suitable, if it had been carried out in Cork rather than in Dublin. I agree, because of the compact nature of the population in Cork which is only about 80,000 or 90,000 as against our 500,000. In that respect, it [615] might have been better to have carried out the experiment in the southern capital. I hope it will not be long anyhow, until we have these other counties manned. It would probably have been just as easy to have given training to 24 as, say, to 12. However, Senators know the difficulties Ministers are up against.

Question put and agreed to.

Section 2 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.


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