The President of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has said the continuing controversies surrounding gardaí have damaged the reputation and standing of the force.

Tim Galvin said that as a serving sergeant he has personal experience of being treated differently and with some suspicion by members of the force.

He was speaking at the AGSI annual conference in Killarney, Co Kerry.

Mr Galvin said many AGSI members have noticed a change in the attitude of the public towards them since these controversies began.

He said they have all been tarred with the same brush.

Mr Galvin said his neighbours are saying things to him and believing what they see in the newspapers.

He said morale among his members is on the floor.

The association is calling for the ongoing investigations into allegations of garda corruption and malpractice to be concluded quickly.

It has blamed senior management for failing to deal with these issues.

The sergeants and inspectors said that as frontline officers they are the ones who have been most affected by the allegations of malpractice.

AGSI General Secretary John Redmond told the conference that sergeants and inspectors have nothing to fear from accountability.

Mr Redmond said senior garda management are to blame for the position the force finds itself in because they failed to deal with the issues that have arisen.

Meanwhile, middle-ranking gardaí based in Co Donegal are calling for the confidential reporting charter to be revised to allow for greater protection for whistleblowers.

They have also called for the establishment of an Independent Police Authority to control and regulate the force.

The motions will be debated at the conference, which opened today.

The conference will also hear calls for more resources for road safety and stun guns to be made available in regions with no armed response unit.

Accountability is a theme that emerges from the motions submitted to the conference from officers in Donegal, where policing was the subject of the Morris Tribunal.

Sergeants and inspectors there feel that under the present system there is not sufficient protection or confidentiality for those who wish to report allegations of wrongdoing.

They are seeking to have the confidential reporting charter reviewed and revised to make it protect what they describe as "genuine" whistleblowers.

They are also concerned about reductions in resources and manpower and point out that there are 30% fewer sergeants in the county than there were ten years ago.

Delegates in Co Mayo want statistics examined to see if there is any correlation between deaths on the roads and the depletion of traffic corps personnel.

They have called for any shortcomings to be addressed as a matter of urgency.