Gardaí in the midlands are planning to attend all funerals in two counties as part of a new initiative to improve community relations and assist bereaved families.

Operation Respect is being rolled out across the Laois Offaly Garda Division, where gardaí say an estimated three to five deaths occur daily.

Speaking at a quarterly meeting of the Offaly Joint Policing Committee in Tullamore, Co Offaly, Chief Superintendent John Scanlan said regardless of who has died "we would expect to have a garda in attendance at all removals."

Chief Supt Scanlan said funerals can be large community gatherings with GAA clubs and local volunteers often help out with issue such as traffic management.

He believed gardaí could also provide assistance and said the force had monitored death notices to establish how many funerals there are in the division.

He had earlier explained that two new gardaí had been assigned to Edenderry and five more were due to be sent to both Birr and Tullamore.

The new allocations would likely lead to historically high garda numbers in both Birr and Edenderry, he said.

Chief Supt Scanlan said additional community gardaí were being appointed in Tullamore.

He pointed out that gardaí at small rural stations were essentially community gardaí and said his ambition in time was to ensure that there are no longer any garda stations with just one garda.

The announcement was welcomed, with Fine Gael Cllr John Clendennen saying he would like to "acknowledge the efforts in relation to Operation Respect. I think it is a very good initiative."

He told the meeting the focus on community policing was very important.