Minister for Justice Simon Harris will bring proposals to Government in the next few weeks to amend laws to increase sentences for assaults causing harm to members of An Garda Síochána and other emergency service workers.

He said he will introduce a maximum sentence of 12 years for such assaults against an on duty garda or emergency service worker, such as hospital staff, prison officers, members of the fire brigade, ambulance personnel or members of the Defence Forces.

This would also cover the ramming of a garda vehicle or other emergency vehicles.

Gardaí have been attacked in recent months in Ballyfermot in Dublin and other areas.

"I want to change the law to ensure that we, the people's representatives, send a very clear message that attacks on members of An Garda Síochána will not be tolerated and will be dealt with robustly by a law that provides for longer sentences," Mr Harris said.

In addition, a new law is currently going through the Oireachtas to increase the maximum sentence of assault causing harm to a member of the general population from five years to ten years.

Mr Harris said he will also change the law to provide specifically for a greater maximum sentence for an assault on a garda or other emergency service worker going about their work.

He said he hopes the legislative changes can be made before the summer recess.

Last month, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris called for legislation dealing with assaults on members of the force to be updated.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) has called for the establishment of a special task force to tackle the problem.

Members of the GRA met with Minister Harris today, a meeting the minister described as "excellent".

Concerns have also been raised about the low intake of new garda recruits to the training college in Templemore.

Additional reporting: Tommy Meskill