An accomplished Donegal woman is honoured during the 60th Anniversary celebrations of women joining An Garda Síochána.

Veteran Garda Kathleen Kelly (nee McFadden) from Gaoth Dobhair was one of the first 12 females to join An Garda Síochána 60 years ago this week.

Garda Kathleen McFadden. Photo: Garda Síochána Donegal

In July 1959, following a long-running campaign by civic groups and with the support of the then Garda Commissioner and Government, 12 women joined An Garda Siochana and were allocated to Pearse Street Station for the first six months. Since then, women have made a crucial contribution to the organisation as well as society.

Kathleen’s trailblazing policing career led her to meet her husband, retired Chief Superintendent Tim Kelly. Together they have five children.

A special commemoration took place in Dublin today to celebrate the women who have served in An Garda Síochána over the last 60 years. The event was attended by some of those first 12 female Gardaí, but Kathleen Kelly received a special surprise in her home instead.

Donegal Garda members, including Inspector Shaun Grant, Sergeant Elaine Gordon, and Gardaí Martina Fowley and Grainne Doherty, visited Mrs Kelly and her family to present her with a commemorative gift. The visit was a chance for Kathleen and members to look back on her many years in the force and to pay tribute to the precedent she has set for many local women.

Kathleen Kelly honoured on 60th Anniversary of Women Joining An Garda Síochána. Photo: Garda Síochána Donegal

Photo: Garda Síochána Donegal

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has today praised the first cohort of female gardaí as brave and inspiring pioneers.

Speaking at the event in Dublin, Commissioner Harris said: “Sixty years ago these pioneers of policing in Ireland took the brave and honourable step of becoming a Garda and, in doing so, not only helped protect the communities they served, but also inspired many other women to follow in their footsteps.”

There are currently 3,780 females making up 27% of Garda members. This is above the European average for female representation within police services. In addition, 26% of the Garda reserve are female and 76% of Garda staff are also female.

Commissioner Harris added: “We have come a long way since the first 12 women joined An Garda Síochána in July 1959. Female representation within the ranks of An Garda Síochána is strong. Women perform duty across the whole range of operational units and bureaus. Every day the women of An Garda Síochána make a positive difference to individuals and the communities this organisation serves across the country and further afield.”

As part of this, Commissioner Harris said An GardaSíochána would be establishing a Women’s Network to support and encourage women in the advancement of their careers in the organisation.