Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has told garda sergeants and inspectors that their association is doing a disservice to the force by presenting itself as a protest movement.

Minister Shatter told the AGSI at its annual conference in Sligo this evening that both it and the Garda Representative Association have lost their way and lost sight of the specific purposes which they were formed.

The association accused the minister of telling lies about garda station closures, a claim which the minister rejected.

He said it was not possible to consult with every individual in relation to station closures which he described as an operational decision made by the Garda Commissioner which he would not second guess.

The AGSI opened this evening with a minute's silence in memory of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe, shot dead on duty in Co Louth in January of this year.

The garda sergeants and inspectors remained silent for a different reason when the minister arrived and told them they had lost their way.

His speech was not well received.

Meanwhile, the AGSI is seeking a review of Government policing policies under the current rationalisation programme.

It says station closures, increased workloads, fleet depletion and the moratorium on recruitment are damaging the force.

It wants the garda Inspectorate or another independent body to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of the Government's policies.

It is also calling for Uzi submachine guns to be reissued to all detectives and has called for all plain-clothes officers in unmarked cars to be armed.

The AGSI, which is holding its annual conference in Sligo, opposes Government cutbacks in policing, pay and conditions.

Members are also seeking legislative change to ensure that anyone arrested must provide their PPS numbers.

They also said that when a suspect spends time waiting for or consulting with their solicitor in a garda station that this should not be counted as detention time.