The Minister for Justice has said that the Government decision to reduce the strength of the Garda Síochána to 13,000 was 'an unfortunate reality'.
Alan Shatter addressed delegates at the Garda Representative Association's annual conference in Westport, Co Mayo, this afternoon.
He said that public safety is not a matter of garda numbers but smart policing, investigative skill and reliable intelligence.
GRA president Damien McCarthy had earlier accused the Government of reckless endangerment.
Mr McCarthy said the force was just getting by, but if a major emergency or terrorist attack happened, the resources on paper would not match those on the street.
Minister Shatter said he disagreed with the GRA on the issue of abolishing the Garda Reserve. He said the reserve was here to stay and the GRA should recognise that reality.
Gardaí frustrated by collection of fines
The GRA also voted unanimously for the Revenue Commissioners to be tasked with the collection of court-imposed fines.
Gardaí at the conference described the system as antiquated, inefficient and overly bureaucratic. They also said it is one that punishes the taxpayer more than the offender.
Delegates want court-imposed fines to be linked to a person's personal tax record and PPS number with interest and penalties for non-payment.
Numerous gardaí told stories today of how long it took them to find people who had been fined in the courts, only to take them to jail and see them released almost immediately.
They say the Special Criminal Court was brought in for subversives, the Criminal Assets Bureau for drug dealers and a similarly robust and innovative approach is now needed for this new breed of criminal.
Minister Shatter said the Government was working on legislation to deal with the court imposed fine system, which he described as ineffective, grossly inefficient and a waste of money.
He said this would include a facility enabling such fines to be attached to a person's earnings or social welfare payments and deducted from them.
He also said he was prepared to examine the GRA's proposal that the fines be linked to a person's tax record.
Call for whistleblowers' charter in public service
Delegates also voted for the introduction of a financial whistleblowers' charter across the public service and are calling on Mr Shatter to bring in new legislation to tackle white collar crime.
The Minister said new legislation to tackle white collar crime will allow gardaí to suspend the questioning of suspects in complex financial investigations to enable detectives to access software and documentation.
The suspect can then be rearrested and questioned about the information obtained.
Mr Shatter also said the legislation would include a list of scheduled offences and is due to be published after Easter.
The Minister also said that he was drawing up new whistleblower legislation that would be broader and extend to more areas of the public service.