Gardaí should be required to record the ethnic, age and gender details of people who are stopped and searched, according to the Chair of the Policing Authority.

Bob Collins has told the Oireachtas Justice Committee that it would be "naive and self-delusional" to think that Ireland was completely different to other countries in the profiling of people who are subject to police searches.

"We don't have any information at all on the nature of stop and search: its extent, the age, the gender, the ethnic indicators of those people who are stopped and searched," he told the committee.

"We would be naive and it would be self-delusional if we thought Ireland was a complete outlier in this respect, and that there was a precisely proportional representation of the entire population in people who are stopped and searched."

Mr Collins said a requirement that data is held on who is stopped and searched should form part of the Garda Síochána Powers Bill, which was being discussed at the Justice Committee tonight.

Also addressing the committee, Independent MEP Clare Daly said it was crucial "when every police force on the planet has been found to be guilty or responsible for racial profiling" that "when we deal with stop and search there should be some facility to record the ethnicity of those who are stopped and searched, to ward against racial profiling".

Speaking at the Committee, a Government TD said he was "deeply concerned" about a proposal in the draft outline of the bill to allow gardaí to carry out a search in urgent circumstances without having to apply to the district court for a warrant.

Green Party TD Patrick Costello said that in order to ensure "true independence" a decision around issuing a warrant has to be made outside of the force.

He said there is no reason not to apply independence as "judges are available" even in urgent situations.

Fine Gael Senator, Barry Ward, said he would have "grave difficulty" with proposals in the Bill which he said would interfere with the right of a person to legal representation when they are being questioned by gardaí.

The draft laws would allow a member of the force to ask a legal representative to absent themselves if they are being "unduly disruptive" or their presence might prejudice an investigation.

Senator Ward told the Justice Committee that the notion that a senior garda could decide that a representative is to be excluded "is a no-go area".

He said: "I think the notion that we would interfere with the right of a person to be represented by legal counsel at a point of questioning is total anathema to the system we have at the moment.

"We have a very delicate balance within our criminal justice system and absolutely central to that is the right of a person to obtain legal advice. I cannot see a circumstance where it would be justifiable for a Garda to decide if a lawyer is being disruptive because that is what their job is; their job is to represent the rights of the person who is being questioned and I am maybe disgusted is a bit strong but it is absolutely extraordinary."

However, Rachel Woods of the Department of Justice said the Bill sets out for the first time in law that legal representation can attend an interview. And this provision is only intended if lawyers are being deliberately obstructive.

She said the department is in discussions with the Attorney General and "would be able to oversee that. We are open to revisiting that provision if that is needed".

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties called for "more robust safeguards to protect ... fundamental rights" in the legislation.

Its opening statement to the committee also shared concerns at the bill's proposed limits to legal representation for those in custody.

The council objected to provisions that would allow a suspect to be questioned before getting legal advice, and would also restrict access to a lawyer during questioning.

It also called for the removal of a measure allowing detention periods beyond 24 hours.

The council also opposes a measure allowing gardaí to decide on the admissibility of evidence in limited circumstances.

It said this power "should remain firmly with the courts".

The Data Protection Commission noted that the powers in the bill are "expansive" and need "safeguards" to ensure that they are exercised appropriately.

It warned against "the collection of personal data that the gardaí are not entitled to by way of statute".