Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said the Minister for Justice will study the decision of the Council of Europe regarding the right of gardaí to participate in trade union action.

Mr Kenny described the decision as a preliminary ruling, and said the Government would wait to see what its consequences might be, as there was "a great deal of work still to be done".

The Strasbourg-based Council, which oversees the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights has 47 member states, 28 of which are members of the European Union.

Its European Committee of Social Rights ruled that the prohibition on the right of gardaí to strike is a violation of an international agreement signed by the Government.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, which took the case said the decision, represents a defining moment for An Garda Síochána.

AGSI General Secretary John Redmond said it was very important that gardaí have the same rights as everyone else but hoped gardaí would not feel it necessary to take such industrial action.

The Government was also been found to be in breach of the European Social Charter by denying gardaí access to the Labour Court and the Labour Relations Commission.

It also ruled that gardaí should have the right to directly negotiate their own pay and conditions.

It is understood the decisions will not become binding until endorsed by the Council's Committee of Ministers.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has welcomed the decision.