The Garda Representative Association has said that responsibility for almost one million false breath tests lies with garda management, not with rank and file gardaí.

The association which represents over 10,000 gardaí says it has not been consulted as part of the current investigation into alleged irregularities in road traffic statistics but points out that such statistics are compiled by management.

GRA President Ciaran O'Neill also rejected the assertion by the Garda Commissioner that it was a matter of collective responsibility and said the GRA would await the outcome of the investigation.

Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has described the irregularities as at best incompetence, at worst deception but the GRA rejected this and pointed out that discipline and other procedures were already in place to deal with both.

Speaking on RTÉ's Six One, Mr O'Neill said: "Garda management have all of the data in respect of it. We haven't been provided with it. They are the ones that manage the data.

"They are the ones that manage the records. And they are the ones that are the supervisors of our members." 

Mr O' Neill has also accused garda management of breaching its own victims’ charter by not recording attacks against gardaí unless they are at least three days off work.

The former president of the GRA said that he will await the result of the formal investigation into the falsified breath tests before making any comment. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Drivetime, Dermot O'Brien, who sits on the GRA's Central Executive Committee said: "There's an undertaking of a formal investigation going on by an assistant commissioner. He has said that numbers don't add up and that's a fact.

Mr O'Brien said also said gardai would like to be able to grow beards: "A well groomed beard is an entitlement to a man if they want to grow a beard. I can't see any reason why not."

Separately, the GRA has also said An Garda Síochána is too often used as a political football by government and opposition and it hopes the Policing Authority will take the necessary measures to remove political intervention in policing.

Mr O'Neill said the force's separation from direct political control is long overdue.
 
He said this will allow the garda commissioner greater freedom in highlighting the problems faced by the police service.
 
He also said he hopes the Policing Authority will "step up" and take the necessary measures to improve promotion opportunities. 

The GRA's annual conference, which begins in Galway this evening, will also hear calls for improved training to deal with counter terrorism and gang-related crime.

The association says that while An Garda Síochána has been rocked by further allegations and perceived crises in leadership and management, the authority needs to improve opportunities for gardaí.

The 32 motions due to be put forward at the conference also include demands for mandatory sentences for assaults on emergency personnel, additional public order units, faster Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission investigations and the removal of the prohibition on gardaí wearing beards.

The delegates are also calling for an audit of the number and nature of assaults on gardaí.
 
They want special training in counter terrorism and improved firearms facilities and other measures to tackle gang-related crime.
 
They also want additional public order units around the country and the uniform to be updated.