Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said there is no question that gardaí will not be properly paid this year despite a €35m cut to the garda payroll provision.

He also said there was no possibility of losing 1,500 gardaí from the force this year.

Senior gardaí have said they can no longer pay all 13,400 serving gardaí and maintain existing levels of policing in 2013.

The Garda Commissioner has already said publicly that he would not like to see the numbers in the force drop below 13,000.

The Department of Justice said the level of reduction in Garda numbers this year will depend on the number of voluntary retirements.

The average number of retirements in recent years has been approximately 400.

The Department said the garda pay bill would be lower this year because there would be fewer gardaí in the force.

Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan is considering offering career breaks and officers on secondment to other investigative departments in an effort to reduce garda numbers.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Pat Kenny, Minister Shatter said there will have to be better efficiencies.

He said: "Firstly, there is no reality or possibility of losing 1,000 gardaí this year or 1,500 gardaí this year. There is no question of gardaí not being properly paid".

Mr Shatter said: "In the context of effecting efficiencies there is a broad range of initiatives being taken. For example, there is an objective to try and ensure that unnecessary costs aren't incurred in the area of overtime.

"There is more efficiencies being put in place with regard to the dealing with court work."

The news has been strongly criticised by the Garda Representative Association.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, GRA President John Parker said it would have a demoralising effect on rank-and-file gardaí.

He said: "It's once again an extra straw that breaks the camel's back.

"The minister has announced a further cut where there has been no bottom of the barrel to scrape.

"The members of An Garda Síochána at the moment feel as if they're in some sort of a perverse laboratory experiment to see where is that straw that breaks the camel's back."

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors said policing is a necessity and the Government must find the money to pay serving gardaí.