In the early 1990’s a group of gay Gardaí travelled to London to meet members of the UK Gay Police Association. They discussed setting up a gay Garda group and the GPA pledged what support they could. The Gardaí returned to Ireland and that was the end of that.
An Garda Síochána was not ready for a gay Garda group and its’ members were not going to put their careers and personal lives on the line by opening up such a controversial topic. Twenty years on, thankfully, a lot had changed.
In 2005 a Group of Gardaí met in The Porter House Pub in Temple Bar. They had gathered because they had one thing in common apart from their employer. They were all gay.
The members discussed the need for a support structure within the organisation and the difficulties that they at a personal lever faced being gay in the Gardaí. The group looked towards the UK and the Gay Police Association and similar structures. They aspired that An Garda Síochána should have such structures in place to support the many lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) employees that have always worked in the Garda organisation.
Over the next few years the social group expanded and more and more Garda members from all ranks and sections of the organisation affiliated themselves with the group. Progress was slow and the group’s members were unsure how other members and Garda management would take to the development of such a support structure. In 22nd November 2007 it was decided to hold a formal meeting and invite all LGB members who were contactable to assist in starting a formal organisation to support LGB staff.
Gardaí of various ranks, Student Gardaí and members of the Garda Reserve attended at the meeting and from there a formal structure began to develop.
International best practice was studied and LGB police resource groups throughout the UK and Europe were contacted to ensure that the Garda group would comply with best practice.
On the 5th February 2009 the Group held its first official meeting in Dublin and established itself with a constitution and the election of its first committee.
An Garda Síochána’s LGB support group had arrived.
The establishment of the group was aided in no small way by the two main Garda Staff Associations. The Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors were instrumental in bringing the case for the Gay Garda Group to the Commissioner and securing his support.
From the earliest stage the staff associations were responsible for furthering the case of LGB people in the organisation with the GRA insistence that a liaison officer position for LGB employees be established under the Garda Síochána Bullying policy.
In September 2009 the group was advertised openly to the Garda organisation for the first time through a three-page article in the Garda Review. This was a major step for the group as for the first time we had access to the whole organisation and it was vital that we used this opportunity to reach out to the many LGB members across all regions who we to date had been unable to reach. The reaction to the article was wonderful with emails and phone calls of support from employees across the organisation. A number of very touching emails were received from members who had until then believed they were totally alone in the organisation. A number of very supportive emails were also received from Garda management. The group was starting to make a real and immediate difference to peoples lives.
The next month an article was carried in Gay Community News on the establishment of the group. G-Force and the Garda organisation were sold to the whole Irish LGB community as professional and progressive. Three openly gay Gardaí photographed in Irelands national LGB magazine signaled to both the Gardaí and to Irelands LGB community that An Garda Síochána was truly modernising and beginning to embrace diversity.