The Garda Commissioner has said he accepts there is a deficit in An Garda Síochána's relationship with the Traveller community and the trust they have in gardaí.

Drew Harris was responding to the findings of a report published earlier this month that found gardaí have a reputation for stopping Travellers.

It also reported that 59% of Travellers who had been stopped in the last five years believed it was because of their background.

The report found that 91% of Travellers surveyed did not believe gardaí treated them with respect, 84% did not believe gardaí treated everyone fairly, 81% believed gardaí did not take them seriously when they made a report to them and 64% said they didn’t feel safe in Garda custody.

The Commissioner said, however, that while these issues were "concerning", he was not in a position to accept many of the findings in the report.

This was because allegations were made and the report was published without gardaí having a chance to assess or investigate them and formulate a response.

"Before I accept it, I want to be sure of reasons why I’m accepting it," the Commissioner told the Policing Authority. "The findings were made without us having recourse to a response."

He also said gardaí were liaising with the report’s authors and setting up a group to lead on examining the report and its recommendations.

Drew Harris said as an "immediate response" the gardaí were creating information videos on the use of Garda powers.

These would give members of the Travelling community and the wider public an understanding of a Garda search of a premises and how gardaí deal with individuals examining driving documents.

He said in many cases there was a misunderstanding of Garda powers.

Half of respondents to the survey said they were present in a home which was entered into by gardaí uninvited. Only 11% said gardaí presented a search warrant.

The Commissioner said that would be a misuse of powers and would be regarded as a very serious matter but he wanted to understand more of the substance of the allegations and the report.

'No tolerance' to drug taking

The Policing Authority has been told that serving gardaí could be sacked if they test positive for drugs.

The head of the Anti Corruption Unit said the Department of Justice is now working on the regulations required for drug testing and they are expected to be signed by the minister and in place by September.

Assistant Commissioner Pat Clavin said all student gardaí and a random 5% of fully trained gardaí will be liable for drug testing.

A preferred bidder, a company to conduct the tests, will also be selected.

The Assistant Commissioner said that if a garda fails a drugs test, disciplinary proceedings will be commenced which could result in dismissal.

He also said those who refuse to take a drug test when required will be subject to misconduct proceedings.

There is, he said, "no tolerance" to drug-taking in the organisation.