The Irish Sikh Council is calling for Sikh Gardaí to be allowed wear a turban carrying the insignia of An Garda Síochána instead of the standard issue cap.

When a recruitment drive for the Garda Reserve Force began in August 2006, the Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan and the Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy were at pains to stress their commitment to including ethnic minorities in the force.

However, when a Sikh man living and working in Ireland completed his Garda Reserve training he was refused permission to wear his turban as part of his uniform and was told he must wear a cap.

The Minister for Integration Conor Lenihan backed the Garda decision, saying immigrants to this country must accept the culture.

Satwinder Singh, spokesperson for the Irish Sikh Council explains the turban is much more than a cultural affectation.

It has been part of our body you can say since the 15th century. You can’t think of Sikh without turban. I just can’t think of me without my turban.

Sikhs are allowed to wear their turban as part of the police uniform in Britain, the United States and in Canada. All UN peacekeeping missions also allow Sikh soldiers to wear the turban while on duty. Now the Irish Sikh Council has called on An Garda Síochána to follow suit and make the Sikh turban a part of the official garda uniform.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 14 August 2007. The reporter is Kathleen MacMahon.