What would make cops in Ireland move to the other side of the world to fight crime? According to the ex-Gardaí in Garda Down Under, plenty.
Like a mashup of Cops and Single-Handed set in Western Australia, Garda Down Under follows seven former Gardaí after they’ve made the move from the Emerald Isle to a Land Down Under, specifically Australia. (If you now can’t get that Men at Work song out of your head, sorry!)
When the series was produced back in 2015, nearly 95,000 men and women who were born in Ireland lived in Australia, of which 25,000 made their homes in Western Australia — the “largest police locality on the planet.”
Western Australia makes up more than 30% of Australia’s land mass and its population is booming. Somebody’s got to maintain law and order in this area that’s the size of 30 Irelands put together, so an international police recruitment effort was started in 2005 to attract skilled officers.
Enter the now-ex Gardaí. In the decade between the launch of the recruitment scheme and the production of the Garda Down Under, dozens of Gardaí pulled up stakes and left Ireland for the next stage of their law enforcement careers and lives in Western Australia.
Seven of them are featured in the TV series, of whom five are introduced in the first two episodes, including former guards from Dublin, Cork, and Limerick now working as forensics, patrol, and criminal investigation officers in Western Australia. Through the exclusive and unhindered access afforded to the show’s producers, we get to follow them on and off the job — from the capital city of Perth, to the remote Kununurra in the Outback.
As for the question that opens this article…
According to the “migrant” officers, starting a new life Down Under was due as much to what they were leaving behind in Ireland as to what they were moving to in Western Australia, with the latter including “permanent residency and a whole lot more money,” not to mention the warmer, sunnier climes.
All very tempting, to be sure, but sealing the deal, as it were, for them to leave family and friends behind to relocate almost 10,000 miles away were reasons including few-to-no opportunities for promotion in the Garda, low morale in the Garda, the economic recession in Ireland, a general dissatisfaction with life in Ireland, and threats against them and their family for simply doing their job.
Since landing in Western Australia — despite feeling homesick and experiencing the high cost of living and the challenges of raising a family in Australia — these six men and one woman have been adapting to their new surroundings and creating new lives for themselves and their partners and families while working as a Garda Down Under.
Produced by RTÉ, Ireland’s national public media broadcaster, and narrated by TV presenter Kathryn Thomas (The Voice of Ireland), Garda Down Under is currently available for streaming in the US exclusively on the Best of British TV channel on Prime Video.
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