The Garda Representative Association has voted unanimously at its annual conference in Co Mayo to seek the abolition of the Garda Reserve.

Members of the GRA said full-time gardaí have been 'babysitting' the part-time reservists, who have to be 'mollycoddled' and looked after by 'real' gardaí.

The conference was told the Garda Reserve costs €3m a year, money that could be spent on the recruitment of over 100 full-time gardaí.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan has told the conference that the community expects gardaí to uphold the dignity and human rights of the public they police.

Mr Callinan's comments come a week after the release of a tape recording where gardaí were heard speaking about rape in the context of two female Corrib Gas protestors they had arrested.

He said the community rightly expects gardaí to exercise their powers appropriately.

The Commissioner again urged victims to have the strength and confidence to report sexual crime.

He assured them the force has people with the expertise and training to listen, investigate and prepare a case for court.

The Commissioner also described the murder of PSNI Constable Ronan Kerr as particularly sickening and said gardaí are continually mounting operations against dissident republicans.

Delegates at the annual conference have passed a motion demanding there be no more high-speed pursuits by garda drivers until the regulations are changed.

They say that members of the gardaí involved in these pursuits have found themselves under investigation by the Garda Ombudsman Commission and before the courts for doing their job.

Concern over policing of State visits

The GRA said it is concerned that most of the annual budget will be spent on big policing events next month, such as the visits of US President Barack Obama and Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

The association has sought an assurance from Commissioner Callinan that there will be funding available for necessary regular police work.

Gardaí at the conference say they are very aware of the security threat posed by international terrorists and dissident republicans to the visits.

They say that while the PSNI has been given an extra €300m to tackle the dissident republican threat this year, the budget for the Garda's Operation Anvil has been cut from €21m to €10m.

All garda leave is expected to be cancelled and millions of euro will be spent on garda overtime next month.

However, GRA President Damien McCarthy says the association is worried that there will not be enough money left for regular policing once the dignitaries have left.