AN GARDA SHANGHAI; Boom in Chinese wanting to join up.
KEEPING law and order on the streets of Ireland is high on the agenda for the Chinese community here.
It follows the disclosure that Chinese men and women make up the majority of the country's new ethnic Garda force.
Over 100 Chinese applicants are among almost 200 foreign nationals who have passed the force's aptitude test.
The group are expected to begin their final qualifications in the coming months.
Some 6,890 foreign nationals applied to join the ranks of the Garda after it was opened up by Justice Minister Michael McDowell.
Minister McDowell dropped the Irish speaking requirement for the Garda due to the increasing foreign national population here.
However, it is unlikely that any of the new ethnic recruits will be posted in any of the Gaeltacht areas of the country where Irish is the first language.
When they qualify many of the foreign nationals are expected to work as liaison officers within their own community as well as working in urban areas including Dublin, Cork and Limerick.
The minister said he was delighted that the initial batch of foreign recruits were just a couple of steps away from becoming fully-fledged gardai. "The participation of ethnic minorities in our police force will make a positive and lasting contribution to the ongoing change and modernisation of the Garda.
"I look forward to the day when trainees from all continents will graduate at the college. Planning for the police service we want for this country in 20 years time should begin now. We must be proactive, progressive and have a vision as to how the Garda can provide a more effective policing service in a more diverse Ireland," he said.
Those still in the running for places the force also include 10 Asians, two Africans and 22 who described themselves as "other".