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Women often have to work two to three times harder than their male counterparts, the second female to serve as Deputy Commissioner of An Garda Síochána has said.

Deputy Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon virtually addressed the NUIG Law Society for International Women’s Day, highlighting the ongoing challenges facing women who enlist in An Garda Síochána.

The Kilmurry McMahon woman, who was appointed to her role in February was joined by guest speakers Minister for Justice Helen McEntee (FG), Chair of the Council of the Bar of Ireland Maura McNally and former president of the Law Society of Ireland, practicing solicitor Michele O’Boyle. The event was organised by Jessica O’Donoghue, Final Year Corporate Law Student from Lahinch.

Anne Marie spoke about joining the force in 1986, when women were mainly seen as a novelty and could only expect to perform basic desk duty and office work. “We have come a long way. Women were mainly concentrated in bigger cities and towns and not in the communities. We had to wear skirts. That was really impractical. I’ve been very fortunate in the opportunities I have had. It wasn’t always easy. Combining parenting and working is a talent.

“Being highly organised and having good childcare is essential. It’s important to balance career options and family life. I firmly believe that equality for women cannot be achieved without women putting themselves forward for leadership roles in all walks of life.”

She paid homage to the women of An Garda Síochána who did this, paving the way forward for others. These include the first females who were assigned to crime investigations, drug investigations and traffic surveillance. This was achieved in a male dominated sector, where many felt they were the token woman, the UL graduate added.

“Today An Garda Síochána is a very different place to when those first twelve ladies joined in 1959,” she stated. Female membership within the force now stands above the EU average at 27 per cent and are an integral part of every unit and section across the organisation. Deputy Commissioner McMahon urged the attendees to consider a career with An Garda Síochána listing a number of expert civilian positions such as Law and IT as examples of further avenues to explore.

She alluded to diversity as one of the integral parts of the organisations make-up and the extensive work in attracting a broad range of people into the force. “From our perspective, we really want to be representative of the society we are policing. We are putting work into reaching not just women, but new Irish and hard to reach groups. We need to work hard across different mediums in getting our message out.”

On a final note, McMahon stated that women often have to work two to three times harder than men to achieve the same level of success due to child rearing. 2020 Woman Lawyer of the year Maura McNally rallied behind the west Clare woman when she stated “the Deputy Commissioner’s remarks reflect the paternal nature of the industry. Childcare has really come to the fore in the lockdown. It’s a reality that society are recognising. We must introduce equality on childcare across all sectors”.

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