Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said she is concerned about morale within An Garda Síochána and will do everything she can to improve it.

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Ms Fitzgerald said she has tried to build a relationship with the Garda Representative Association and does not want to see the Government freezing increments.

Her comments follow a protest by the GRA, which represents 10,500 rank and file gardaí, outside Leinster House over the Government's threat to freeze pay from tomorrow because they have rejected the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Ms Fitzgerald said the Government's door is always open and she would like to see a commitment to the LRA, and that an orderly process of handling pay claims is needed.

The GRA had signed up to the Haddington Road Agreement, which imposed pay cuts, increment freezes and additional unpaid working hours on around 300,000 public servants. 

The HRA expires today and will be replaced from tomorrow by the LRA, which will commence the slow road to pay restoration.

However, under emergency legislation known as FEMPI, which the Government renewed last night, unions which do not sign up to the LRA face the prospect of an immediate freeze on increments, the loss of restoration of pay cuts and allowances, and the risk of compulsory redundancy. 

By rejecting the new deal, 6,500 GRA members will face a pay freeze. 

In a statement outside the Dáil, GRA President Ciarán O'Neill said new recruits who are paid €23,171 are being "punished" by the Government. 

Garda Representative Association President Ciarán O'Neill

Mr O'Neill said gardaí have done their bit and now it is time for the government to "step-up".

Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke, Mr O'Neill said if the Government imposes pay freezes on members they will have no alternative but to take industrial action.

While 280,000 public servants have accepted the LRA, the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland, the GRA and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors rejected it.

The garda bodies say that a review of garda pay and industrial relations which was due to be completed under the HRA was not finished. 

Since January, the gardaí have ceased working 30 unpaid hours a year, resulting in an increase in garda overtime costs.

However, they note that they have not breached the HRA as the obligation to work the hours only continued to last December.  

Yesterday, the AGSI announced that following assurances that a review of garda pay and industrial relations promised under the HRA will be completed within six months, the union will re-ballot its 2,500 members with a recommendation for acceptance

Crucially, they have been assured that the penal elements of FEMPI - including the immediate pay freeze - will not be implemented until after the ballot.

Members of the AGSI marched on Government Buildings last month in a demonstration over pay restoration.

However, the GRA remains adamant that it will not engage in talks on the LRA until the actual review promised under the HRA is complete. 

This means that from tomorrow, rank-and-file gardaí due an incremental pay rise will not receive it.

GRA sources have warned that this could lead to an escalation of their dispute, as they have fulfilled all obligations under the HRA to date.

Meanwhile, members of the ASTI are on a collision course with the Government, having rejected the LRA, and having also issued a directive to members to cease working 33 extra hours per year imposed under the Croke Park Agreement. 

They have agreed to meet the Minister for Education Richard Bruton to discuss "issues of concern", but say they will not be talking about the Lansdowne Road Agreement.