From Academic Kids

A member of the motorcycle unit of the Garda Síochána.
A member of the motorcycle unit of the Garda Síochána.

Garda Síochána na hÉireann (English: "The Guardians of the Peace of Ireland"), commonly known as the Garda Síochána or simply the Garda, is the national police force of the Republic of Ireland. The force is headed by the Garda Commissioner who is appointed by the Irish Government. The headquarters of the force are located in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.



As a force the term Garda is used, whilst the plural Irish word gardaí is used when referring to members of the force collectively. The guards is also sometimes used colloquially. A female officer was once commonly referred to as a bangharda, but this term is less common now, and an officer, male or female, is usually simply called a garda.


The force is headed by the Commissioner. His immediate subordinates are the two Deputy Commissioners, who are in charge respectively of Strategic and Resource Management and Operations. Strategic and Resource Management primarily deals with national organisational and technical matters and does not deal with crime directly, the majority of operational and staffing matters coming under Operations. There are ten Assistant Commissioners: six are geographically based, and the others are assigned to various national support roles. A civilian Director of Finance is placed at a similar organisational level to the Assistant Commissioners.

The six geographical Assistant Commissioners command the six force Regions, currently Dublin Metropolitan, Eastern, Northern, Southern, South-Eastern and Western Regions. Below the Assistant Commissioners are approximately twenty-five Chief Superintendents, who supervise Divisions. Each Division contains a number of Districts, each of which is commanded by a Superintendent, who is assisted by a number of Inspectors. Each District has a number of Subdistricts, which are usually commanded by Sergeants.

Typically each Subdistrict contains only one station. A varying number of Gardai will be based at each station depending on its importance. Most of these hold the basic rank of Garda (the equivalent of Constable in British police forces). The most junior members of the force are Students, whose duties vary depending on their training progress and who are often given clerical duties if assigned to a station when not in college.

The force also has approximately 1,000 civilian support staff, including a Chief Medical Officer. These civilian posts include a diverse range of professionals, such as administrative staff, accounting staff, drivers, information technology staff, photographers, researchers and teachers.

An unarmed force

Uniformed members of An Garda Síochána do not carry firearms. However around 1,700 plainclothes detective Gardai do, as do members of the Special Branch. It is a tradition of the service that standard policing should be carried out in both rural and urban areas by uniformed officers equipped only with a wooden truncheon. This has been the situation since 1922 when the first Commissioner, Michael Staines, declared "The Garda Síochána will succeed not by force of arms or numbers, but on their moral authority as servants of the people".

The Scott Medal

The Scott Medal for Bravery is the highest honour for bravery and valour which can be awarded to a member of the Garda Síochána. The first medals were funded by General Walter Scott, an honorary Commissioner of the New York Police Department1. To mark the United States link, the American English spelling of valor is used on the medal. The Commissioner of An Garda Síochána chooses the recipients of the medal, which is presented by the Minister for Justice.

In 2000, Anne McCabe, widow of Garda Gerry McCabe, who was murdered by the Provisional IRA while it was officially on ceasefire, accepted the Scott Medal for Bravery that had been awarded posthumously to her husband2.

Policing overseas

Since 1989 An Garda Síochána has undertaken United Nations peace-keeping duties. Its first overseas mission was a 50 strong contingent sent to Namibia. Since then the force has acted in Angola, Cambodia, Cyprus, Mozambique, South Africa and the former Yugoslavia. The Garda's first fatality was Sergeant Paul M. Reid, who was fatally injured while on duty with the United Nations UNPROFOR at "Sniper's Alley" in Sarajevo on 18 May, 1995.


Missing image
New Garda recruits salute the President, Tostal 1954

The Civic Guard was formed by the Provisional Government in February 1922, to replace the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and take over the responsibility of policing the fledgling Irish Free State. In August 1922 the force accompanied Michael Collins when he met the Lord Lieutenant in Dublin Castle3.

The Garda Síochána (Temporary Provisions), Act, enacted after the creation of the Irish Free State on the 8 August 19234, provided for the creation of "a force of police to be called and known as 'The Garda Síochána'". Under section 22, The Civic Guard were deemed to have been established under and to be governed by the Act. The law therefore effectively renamed the existing force.

In Dublin, policing remained the responsibility of the capital's own local police force, the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) until 1925. In that year the DMP merged with the Garda Síochána, and since then the Garda has been the only police force in the state now known as the Republic of Ireland.

Garda commissioners

The first Commissioner, Michael Staines, held office for only eight months. It was his successors, Eoin O'Duffy and Eamon Broy, who played a central role in the development of the force. Broy had greatly assisted the IRA during the War of Independence, while serving with the DMP. O'Duffy later became a short-lived Irish quasi-fascist political leader of the 'Blueshirts' before heading to Spain to fight alongside Francisco Franco's Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. Broy's fame grew in the 1990s when he featured in the film Michael Collins, in which it was misleadingly suggested that he had been murdered by the British during the War of Independence when in reality he lived for decades and headed the Garda Síochána from 1923 to 1938.

One later Commissioner, Bradford-born Edward Garvey was famously sacked by the Government of Jack Lynch in 1978 without reason, other than a vague claim that the government had lost confidence in him. He took and won an 'unfair dismissal' legal case. The case made its way to the Supreme Court which found the action of the government improper. This outcome required the passing of the Garda Síochána Act, 1979 to retrospectively validate the actions of Garvey's successor since he had become Commissioner 5. His successor in turn, Patrick McLoughlin, was forced to resign along with his deputy in 1983 over his peripheral involvement in a political scandal.

Allegations against the force

Traditionally the perception of the force within Ireland has been positive, especially when compared to the Royal Ulster Constabulary; however several scandals have undermined the force. One of the first charges of serious impropriety against the force rose out of the handling of the Sallins Train Robbery (March 1976); this case eventually lead to a serious miscarriage of justice and accusations of a "heavy gang" operating within the force which intimidated and tortured the accused. This eventually lead to a Presidential Pardon for one of the accused. Several less high profile scandals occurred over the next decade or so which further tarnished the force's reputation.

In the 1990s and early 2000s An Garda Síochána faced a series of allegations, including suggestions of corrupt and dishonest policing in County Donegal (which is the subject of a judicial inquiry, the Morris Tribunal). The Morris Tribunal found that some County Donegal gardaí had invented an IRA informer, made bombs and claimed credit for locating them, and framed a Donegal night-club owner for drug-dealing and a publican for manslaughter.

In 2004, an RTÉ Prime Time documentary accused small elements within the Garda of abusing their powers by physically assaulting people arrested. A retired District Justice suggested that some members of the force had committed perjury in criminal trials before him, while a Minister of State (junior minister) accused police in one instance of "torture". The Garda Commissioner accused the television programme of lacking balance.

The Prime Time documentary followed hot on the heels of footage published by the Independent Media Centre Ireland showing attacks by Gardai on Reclaim the Streets party-goers 6. The subsequent acquital of one of the Gardai shown in these pictures has done much to undermine confidence in the legal system in the Republic of Ireland.


  1. See Walter Scott biography ( from (
  2. See: "Murdered garda hero honoured" ( from the Examiner (
  3. According to Irish constitutional theory he met the Lord Lieutenant to accept the surrender of Dublin Castle. However, as far as the British government were concerned, the purpose of the meeting was for the Lord Lieutenant to formally appoint Collins as Chairman of the Provisional Government.
  4. See: Full text of the Act (
  5. See: Full text of the Act (
  6. See: "Garda Goes Berserk" ( on (

See also

External links


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools