The General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) has said that gardaí should receive a pandemic bonus.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week, Antoinette Cunningham said that it "hasn't been the easiest of times for An Garda Síochána, but I do believe we stepped up and responded to the challenge".

The Government plans to give frontline workers a bonus as a reward for their efforts during the pandemic.

Payments and time off are being considered for healthcare workers, however there are calls to broaden it to other workers who stepped up during the pandemic.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that rewards of recognition must not be limited to healthcare workers, and there could be a combination of approaches, including the possibility of monetary rewards or time in lieu.

Ms Cunningham said that last March gardaí moved from "traditional work pattern and traditional annual leave and rest day pattern into a new urgent shift of 12 hours on, 12 hours off to police the pandemic".

There was "increased anxiety and stress for the members of AGSI as they policed their way through a silent and deadly virus," she claimed.

Members were exposed to "some of the negative elements of society," Ms Cunningham added.

This included some people spitting into faces of gardaí and handling protests on Grafton Street.

She said that the AGSI is "not prescriptive" about the form that this bonus should take and said that it is important that gardaí are included in discussions on it.

Ms Cunningham said: "The gardaí, as far as AGSI are aware, have not formally or informally been brought into the conversation yet.

"But of course it's our belief that we should be brought into that conversation given the service that we did provide over the past 18 months and still continue to provide through this Covid pandemic."

Confusion reigns over special pandemic recognition bonus