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Public sector must reflect community diversity

Public service appointments must reflect the diversity of the communities they serve, General Secretary of Fórsa, the country’s largest public sector trade union, has said.

Kevin Callinan was addressing the Irish Association of Former Parliamentarians, which is holding its 9th Annual Seminar today in the Seanad Chamber at Leinster House.

The theme of the seminar is “The challenges and opportunities of a multicultural society.”

Mr Callinan said limited information available from the Public Appointments System (PAS) shows that 88% of applications, between 2019 and 2021, were from individuals who identified as ‘White Irish’, and of the appointments during that period, 89% were ‘White Irish’ and a further 6% were ‘White’ from any other background.

“What does this limited data tell us? It tells us one thing: these public services roles are not reflective of the diverse communities that they serve. And this raises some concerns for the public service more broadly,” Mr Callinan said.

“It is imperative that the Government not only sets out to monitor its progress on improving diversity within the public service, but publishes this progress as an act of accountability and transparency, and a public display of its commitment to proactively promote inclusion of migrant communities, rather than paying lip service to the idea,” he added.

In his address, Mr Callinan highlighted that skilled workers from 117 different countries have brought their expertise to the Irish healthcare system.

“As trade unions, we must ensure that these individuals are protected from discrimination, can be integrated into communities, and are welcomed into new spaces with open arms,” he said.

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