The Deputy Garda Commissioner has admitted that garda resources have been diverted from road safety to duties involved with Ireland's presidency of the European Union.

Fachtna Murphy was speaking at an Oireachtas Transport Committee meeting to discuss the increase in road deaths in recent months.

The introduction of the penalty point system caused a dramatic decrease in the number of fatal accidents on Irish roads. But now that effect seems to have worn off as fatalities are up by 30%.

The Oireachtas Transport Committee is trying to find out why.

Mr Murphy admitted for the first time that less gardaí were monitoring road safety, as a result of resources being diverted to provide motorcycle escorts for visiting VIPs during the EU presidency.

Pat Costello, Chief Executive of the National Safety Council, told the committee that this has probably had an impact on the number of road deaths.

At today's meeting the gardaí also dealt with reports that they could not meet Government targets on the number of speed checks to be carried out.

The Deputy Commissioner said the gardaí had ambitious targets, but that they could not be met with existing resources. Mr Murphy said they would need outside help in operating speed cameras and with administration. However, the gardaí would still control where speed cameras would be used.

The force was criticised by Progressive Democrat Senator Tom Morrissey for squandering support for the penalty point system by setting up speed checks at easy locations and not at accident black spots.

Fine Gael TD Denis Naughten pointed out that the penalty point system has still not been computerised, although a pilot scheme should be up and running by June.

Mr Naughten said the Minister for Justice had misled the Dáil by promising that the full system would be operational by June.

115 people have died on the State's roads so far this year, compared to 86 for the same period last year.