Sikh police officers in other countries are permitted to wear a turban as part of their uniform but this will not be allowed in Ireland.
Sikhs in many countries who are members of the army or the police force wear a turban as part of their uniform. However, despite the fact that there are around 1,500 Sikhs living in Ireland, they are not permitted to wear their turban in these roles.
Satwinder Singh of the Irish Sikh Council provides examples of Sikhs from around the world who are in the army or police and continue to wear their turbans. However, this is not the case in An Garda Síochána, who have decided not to allow the wearing of the turban as part of the Garda uniform. The decision has been supported by junior minister Conor Lenihan.
Palbinder Singh of the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association in London spoke to RTÉ News about the decision. Mr Singh said that a candidate who has passed the aptitude tests and physical examinations while wearing a turban should be allowed to continue wearing his turban as an active member of the police force.
The Garda decision has also been backed by Fine Gael justice spokesperson Jim O'Keeffe saying
A uniform is a uniform dress code. It is up to those who want to introduce changes to prove their case, and I don't think that that case has been made in a compelling fashion. In the meantime, the Garda Siochana should enforce its existing policy.
Green Party Justice Spokesperson Ciaran Cuffe disagrees with the decision and says it is a question of identity and inclusion, and that we should not be preventing minority groups from joining the Garda Reserves.
The ruling came after a Sikh who volunteered to join the Garda Reserve was refused permission to wear his turban as part of his uniform.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 22 August 2007. The reporter is Bethan Kilfoil.