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Ravinder Singh as an inspiration to people from minority groups in Ireland; first Sikh to become a member of the Garda Reserves

An Indian minority man has made his dream come true after a long wait of 14 years, and became the pride of the Indian community in Ireland. Ravinder Singh Oberoi, who has lived in Ireland since 1997, has become the first practising Sikh to become a member of the Garda Reserves.

Ravinder Singh had completed most of the training required to join the reserve, but could not continue the training because the values ​​and morals promoted by an Garda Síochána did not fit his religious practices. Although he left training in 2007 and was disappointed, he is now happy to be able to fulfil his dream again after 14 years.

Ravinder Singh Oberoi, who attested as a member of the Garda Reserves this week, is extremely proud. Mr. Oberoi said he was delighted that the turban was allowed to be included in their uniform, which he described as “the happy ending of a long journey.” He will also be an inspiration for people from Ireland’s minority communities to come to the frontline.

Arrived in Ireland twenty-three years ago and worked in the IT sector, Mr. Oberoi sworn in as a reserve member last Tuesday at Templemore Garda College in Tipperary. Although he had longed for this special moment before, it wasn’t happened because he was not allowed to wear the turban as part of the Garda uniform.

Disappointed after dropping out of training in 2007, Mr. Oberoi challenged it before an Equality Tribunal and the High Court. The court ruled that Garda was not guilty of employee discrimination because Garda Reservists were legally volunteers rather than employees.  

Although it took years, in 2019 Garda Commissioner Drew Harris announced the permission for changes to the Garda uniform code. The new change, aimed at increasing the recruitment of ethnic minorities, allowed members to wear certain clothes related to their religious groups. Muslims can wear headscarves and Sikhs can wear turbans.

Following the decision to modify the uniform code, he underwent a refresher training course and operational training on the beat in Dublin in 2020 to fulfil his long-cherished dream.

Mr. Oberoi said Tuesday’s event to join an Garda Síochána’s voluntary and unpaid policing body was quite emotional.

“After 14 years it was a proud moment as a Sikh man to be able to wear a turban as part of the uniform.”

Although his post is voluntary, Mr. Oberoi wants to start the beat next week and play a part in Garda’s national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “My faith is quite important, especially during these COVID times, it’s what keeps you going. It’s a great honour to be able to call this country my home and now to be accepted in the attire I wear,” he said.

Ravinder Singh Oberoi is the only Sikh currently serving in the Garda force. However, it is hoped that Mr. Oberoi will inspire young people from minority communities in Ireland, including those of Indian descent, to pursue a career in policing, or other frontline activities.

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