A man removed from college over tattoo says he has been mistreated.’
A trainee garda sent home from Templemore Garda College after he was told the tattoo on his hand did not comply with the force’s dress and uniform code said he had been “mistreated.”
The three trainees who were sent home were among 175 recruits undergoing induction.
Getting to Templemore took around 18 months and included multiple assessments and interviews.
He pointed out that in all these interviews, the tattoo of a lion was visible on his hand, but no one, including senior gardaí, had ever expressed concern about it.
The man got the tattoo of a lion as a tribute to his now five-year-old son, who bravely fought a rare kidney disease that required the child to undergo extensive hospital treatment during the Covid pandemic.
The would-be garda previously had a tattoo on his neck removed as he was aware of the tattoos in the garda uniform and dress code. The information booklet states: “Body art (tattoos) on the face, or visible above the collar, are not permitted.
“All other tattoos will be covered at all times while on duty, whether in uniform or plain clothes.”
On this basis, he believed he would comply with the code if he wore a cover on his hand while on duty, hiding the image.
“If I am to be accepted back into training, I must remove the tattoo on my hand, which could take a year. It would mean I would have to put my life on hold during that time.
“It could cost up to €2,000 and involve potentially up to 20 painful sessions. Then, after all that, there is no guarantee that it would be acceptable – it might be considered to look more unsightly after all that,” he explained.
He said he was treated very well by the staff in Templemore, who dealt with him respectfully over the issue. Still, he believes the decision to terminate his training was made by senior garda management.
He recalled how he felt when told he had to leave the course and what it was like to break the news to his family and friends: “It was complicated and embarrassing. I left a job I had built a career for, and being told I was out was very deflating and a big knock on my confidence.
“I prepared myself mentally and physically to take on this new chapter, and now I am back at square one.”
He described the tattoo policy as “vague, not progressive, and not very inclusive.”
Garda Representative Association president Brendan O’Connor called on garda management to review the policy.
“It does seem that perhaps this policy is slightly out of step and is robbing the organization of three people with the potential to be excellent guards,” he told RTÉ.
In the cases of the two other cadets, one had a tattoo behind her ear, while the other had one on her neck.
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