The Minister for Justice has said the Government cannot recruit any more young people into the gardaí.
Alan Shatter made his comments after the two largest garda representative bodies strongly criticised the decision to stop recruiting gardaí.
Mr Shatter told the Seanad that the Government had inherited the EU/IMF agreement and 'the financial envelope' made provision to reduce garda numbers from 14,500 to 13,500 by the end of this year.
He said there was no mechanism as to how this reduction was to be achieved and it was therefore 'unfortunate and regrettable' that the Government finds itself in the position it is in.
The Minister said there were at present about 14,300 gardaí, which was higher than previous years.
Mr Shatter said he had absolute confidence in the capacity and capability in the number available now and the number that will be available.
The last 126 gardaí graduate from Templemore on Thursday and there will be no new recruits for at least two years.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has said the decision is a serious mistake.
It said the decision will take youth and vitality from a force, which is already losing experienced members through early retirements.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, AGSI Deputy General Secretary John Redmond said the decision is short-sighted.
Mr Redmond said that by the end of 2012 there will be a huge number of people who will have retired from the service.
He said there is only 'one growth industry' in a recession and that is crime.
The Garda Representative Association said the Government is gambling with the safety of citizens and the security of the State to save money.
The policy has also been strongly criticised by business people in Templemore, who say it will devastate a town already suffering in a recession.
The Templemore Traders Association said the absence of students and the running down of the college will cost the local economy in the Co Tipperary town millions of euro in trade and job losses.