The Minister for Justice has told the Dáil that he will be bringing a draft bill to Government next Tuesday on the establishment of a DNA database.

Dermot Ahern said the Bill would be published shortly after that and he expected the tendering process for construction of a new Forensic Science Laboratory to begin early in the New Year.

Minister Ahern said construction of the laboratory should begin in the second half of the year.

The Minister was responding to questions from Fine Gael's Charlie Flanagan who pointed out that the Law Reform Commission had recommended the establishment of a DNA database in a report five years ago.

The Minister said the delays arose as consideration had to be given to a number of important privacy and human rights issues that had arisen.

Earlier, the Opposition welcomed the Minister's statement that community policing was a top priority of the Government.

Dermot Ahern confirmed that 994 gardaí were acting specifically as community gardaí.

Labour TD Pat Rabbitte asked the Minister to commit to not reducing the number of community gardaí when reductions in the number of gardaí are introduced.

The Minister said the allocation of Garda resources was a matter for the Commissioner.

He said he was committed to keeping garda numbers as high as possible.

Fine Gael's Charlie Flanagan called for a target of 12.5% of the force to be dedicated to community policing.

Dermot Ahern said it was his desire to have more community gardaí but he did not want to tie the hands of garda management by imposing quotas on them.