The Taoiseach has said he will not apologise for the presence of garda checkpoints after claims in the Dáil that orders were "coming from the top" to set up checkpoints to coincide with Mass in rural areas.

Leo Varadkar was responding to the Independent TD Danny Healy Rae who criticised the Minister for Transport over the transport initiative, which was established to provide transport services in rural areas. 

Mr Healy Rae said the existing links had not been added to and claimed that some of the links promised had not been delivered.

He asked who was ordering checkpoints when people are travelling to Mass.

Mr Healy Rae claimed the order was "coming from the top", and asked if the Government was seeking to close down churches.

The Taoiseach said there were Garda checkpoints all over the country and neither he, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan or Minister for Transport Shane Ross order the setting up of checkpoints.

Mr Varadkar said the Garda Commissioner or superintendents made the decision and he would not apologise for Garda checkpoints.

The Taoiseach said the vast majority of law abiding citizens want to see Garda checkpoints, which he said help in tackling rural crime.