August 17, 2022

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For the third time in An Garda Síochána’s history, the uniform has had a modern...

For the third time in An Garda Síochána’s history, the uniform has had a modern makeover.
he roll-out of the new uniform coincides with the 100th anniversary of the force this year.

The first uniform in 1922 shared many similarities with the uniform worn by the English constabulary, with a high-neck tunic, a cape and a high helmet.
In 1987, the uniform changed colour from dark blue with silver badges to a lighter shade of blue with gold badges and buttons – chrome can maintain a shine for longer. A thick ‘bulls wool coat’ was worn on cold winter days to protect members of the force from the elements. 
The last time the Garda uniform was updated was back in 2005 when a waterproof jacket, and an inner “windstopper” fleece were introduced. A new shirt with chevrons on the right sleeve for sergeants was also brought in. While the cap remained the same, a new cap badge bearing the Garda colours was also introduced in 2005.
Former Garda and Rose of Tralee contestant-turned-etiquette coach Brenda Hyland Beirne said she thought the new uniforms are “a step in the right direction”. 
“When you are wearing that uniform, yes, you want to look well in it,” she told RTÉ News. “But it is more important to be comfortable and do your job well.”
Of course, there have been some alterations and modifications made to the standard uniform over the years. In 2019, in a bid to be more inclusive and attract recruits from different cultural backgrounds, the Garda said Turban, Kufi, Topi, Kippah, or Hijab could be worn when in service. 
At times some changes to the uniform were met with resistance – in 2002 then-justice minister Micheal McDowell opposed gardaí getting stab vests, sprays and modern batons, saying “I don’t like the RoboCop image that’s involved in that.”  
The new uniform unveiled yesterday differs quite a bit in aesthetic terms from its more formal and traditional precursor – no more navy ties or button-down shirts.
The changes include the introduction of a two-tone soft shell waterproof jackets, Garda polo shirt, “operational trousers” (with plenty of pockets) and “practical base layers”.
A Garda spokesperson confirmed yesterday that the uniform is also genderless. 
For the first time the uniform will also feature the Garda Crest. The emphasis is now on functionality and durability.
Some pointed out that the uniform shares similarities with police forces in other European countries, while others jokingly remarked on social media that the gardaí have embraced the lounge-wear trend.
According to fashion psychologists, wearing a work uniform when in a position of authority is hugely important.
“The importance of any uniform is a signifier of belonging to a particular group,” stylist and designer Sonya Kelly said. “In the case of the gardaí this is particularly important as their visibility is part of their authority. 
“A uniform can make the individual feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves and as a consequence they may perform better in work.
“Uniforms can also bring a sense of cohesion. And practically speaking, it is probably easier to chase someone down when wearing the official steel-toe Garda shoes rather than a pair Birkenstocks or high heels.” 
The new uniform was a collaborative effort – more than 200 gardaí were asked for their feedback in the development and design. 
Over the coming weeks, this new uniform will be delivered to over 13,000 gardaí.

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