The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors has strongly criticised the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission for issuing a statement about complaints about gardaí that have yet to be validated.

Yesterday, GSOC said it had received more than 70 complaints about the force's policing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the association representing middle-ranking gardaí said they were very disappointed with GSOC because it is the statutory body that can decide the admissibility of a complaint.

AGSI General Secretary Antoinnette Cunningham questioned why GSOC would issue such a statement in the middle of the current crisis when it does not know if the complaints it has received meet the legal criteria.

When issuing the statement yesterday, GSOC said it decided to share information about the complaints to assist garda management in identifying issues that may be emerging in the enforcement of the restrictions.

It also said it would not share the identities of the complainants or the gardaí allegedly involved.

GSOC says some of the complaint relate to gardaí not wearing face masks, but AGSI pointed out that they cannot wear face masks because they have been instructed by the Chief Medical Officer not to do so.

Ms Cunningham said these complaints are therefore "unfair" to the gardaí.

GSOC admits it does not know if the complaints it has received are valid or if they meet the legal criteria set out in law because it has not assessed them.

It said some of the complaints allege that gardaí were not observing social distancing or were not using gloves and/or masks.

Other complaints allege that a garda was rude or abrupt at a checkpoint, or that a garda instructed a person to return home when the person said they were going beyond the 2km limit to go to the shop.

Garda Headquarters declined to comment on GSOC's statement.