The Garda Representative Association has decided to proceed with its ballot for industrial action.

The Association is due to send out ballot papers to 11,600 gardaí before Christmas, but the result is not expected until the new year.

The decision not to defer the ballot was announced after the two-day meeting of the GRA's central executive committee finished this evening.

The 31 gardaí from all over the country discussed the contents of a letter which the Garda Commissioner handed to the General Secretary PJ Stone.

In that letter, Fachtna Murphy expressed his grave concerns and set out the potential civil and criminal implications of the proposed action.

He also circulated another letter to all gardaí warning them that this could also compromise the moral authority of gardaí to police - and impact on public confidence in and respect for the force.

A GRA spokesman said the Commissioner outlined his views, which were considered by the Association. However he issued no directive and did not tell the GRA to desist.

The Minister for Justice described the move as a challenge to the authority of the State which cannot go ahead. The GRA spokesman said the association has had no direct communication from Dermot Ahern.