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Doing it for Dublin, the Garda Reserves

Monday to Friday from 9 to 5, Ailis Mc Brien works in the Ulster Bank Broker Sales Support office –nothing too unusual there you’d think.

But outside of her day role, you’ll spot Ailis in the Garda uniform supporting communities in Dublin, taking on the duties of a police officer. Her role involves interacting with communities, protecting the public, supporting her colleagues and making arrests.

I had a chat with Ailis to find out what it’s really like to balance a full-time role in a bank, with a completely different job as a part-time police officer.

Hi Ailis, thanks for joining me today, tell me about your current job, and what attracted you to the Garda as a reserve?

I‘ve done a few different roles in Ulster Bank, and I’m now a Mortgage Assessor and I really enjoy my job. I had wanted to join the Garda Reserve for some time, and a lot of my family are in the police, which influenced me to join myself!

I like working with people and contributing to the local community here in Dublin. Part of the Garda ethos is to protect and serve the community, that’s exactly what I get to do on a voluntary basis. I’ve been doing it for four years now and I love it.

How much time do you need to give to your Reserve Garda role and how do you find it?

A normal shift for me would be 10 hours, so I do a night shift over the weekend like 9pm to 7am, or I do a 5pm to 3am shift. I try and do at least two a month.

At first it was tough, and after 4 years it can still be tiring! You have to try and get a good work-life balance with the two jobs, but I honestly love it. As you can imagine, on Garda shifts there will be things you don’t anticipate, meaning you could be doing longer hours. But it’s all voluntary, you’re doing things for your community and there’s such a feel good factor, so it’s all worth it.

What kind of work do you undertake in your police role?

Serving the community is the core of what we do.

We assist in major emergencies in the area, and I’m allocated to a station in the south inner city. It’s really an all rounder role and very similar to a full-time police officer’s work. You’ll be required to go on your beats in the evening, which can be a patrol on foot or in a car. I also go to court as a witness and give evidence, and I complete door to door enquiries. In my job I carry out operational police roles, as well as admin work like signing passports.

What’s something exciting to call out that’s happened in your Garda role?

It’s all exciting! There have been some really interesting things that have come across because of my Garda role. Every month I feature on Crimecall, which is a live monthly TV programme where people can report on crimes and give information by calling in. I take the calls myself, which is really interesting as you’re dealing with lots of different people and situations.

Having two roles must be challenging at times, how do you balance the Garda with your Ulster Bank work?

Ulster Bank is very good when it comes to balancing work and volunteering. Each year, you can get up to 10 days off to volunteer. When I’m doing Crimecall for example, I can use that allowance to get time to do so.

My managers are excellent, they’ve been really great throughout my time in the Garda, and they’ve helped me deal with the time commitment challenges. Some even watch me on TV, which adds some support as they understand why I’m sometimes a bit tired the next day!

How do your colleagues differ in each of the two roles?

My colleagues in Ulster Bank are fantastic, they’re very supportive people. My colleagues in the Garda are the same, but they’re also different at the same time!

It’s an environment where there’s a lot of on the spot decision making, so every decision can have a huge impact and has to be taken carefully.

There are skills that cross over with each role - team work is essential, focus on results delivery, collaboration, assertiveness and of course great communication skills – all of these work really well in both roles and thanks to having two jobs, I now have an even wider skillset.

Finally, what would you say to someone looking to join the Garda reserve or take on a volunteer role alongside a full-time job in Ulster Bank?

I’d strongly recommend it! For anyone with an interest in serving their community, or for anyone who wants to go above and beyond a normal day to day volunteering role.

It can be really tough work. It’s long hours and emotionally draining at points, but it’s also very rewarding. You meet so many different people inside and outside of the role from all walks of life, and you learn so much.

I’ve developed myself in assertiveness and confidence. I’ve been able to bring all that back in here to my day job – which is great because I wouldn’t have been able to have achieved this without the support of the bank.

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