A retired Circuit Court judge has alleged that members of Garda Siochana had lied in his court, provoking a new furore over policing in the 26 Counties.
Former judge Anthony Murphy, told RTE televison: ``There have been occasions when the guards have committed perjury in my court''.
He added he had heard confessions which were ``couched in Templemore [Garda] phraseology . . . I had a simple rule about it. If there was a confession and nothing else, the man (accused) walked''.
There have been other accusations against the Gardaí recently, including incidents of police brutality described by one government minister as ``tantamount to torture''.
The chairman of the current Garda Complaints Board, Mr Gordon Holmes, last night said public confidence in the Gardaí was at, or near, an all time low. While the majority of Gardaí were ``first class'' the public perception was that officers who behaved less than honourably were not being adequately investigated and punished, he added.
A spokesman for the Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell, said legislation to create a Garda Ombudsman would be published within three weeks. The new three-strong body will be able to investigate allegations of poor conduct, corruption or other charges against Gardaí.
Sinn Féin reiterated its call for a fully independent Garda Ombudsman with at least the same powers and adequate resources as the Ombudsman in the Six Counties.
Party spokeman Aengus O Snodaigh said that ``while the revelations maybe shocking for many people they are but the tip of the iceberg''. He said the practices outlined in the programme were common and have led to a situation where many members of the public now have little or no faith in the force.
``Last night's programme exposed the complete nonsense that is the notion of the Gardaí investigating themselves when issues of wrongdoing arise,'' he said.
``The programme showed that the mechanisms in place at the moment are not only ineffective but actually mitigate against proper investigations being conducted and satisfactory conclusions based on justice being reached.''
``The programme and subsequent interviews also revealed a disturbing insight into the thinking of senior management within the Gardaí. That they couldn't accept the criticisms being levelled at them and couldn't understand the concerns of the wider community shows they are far too removed from the reality of everyday life for ordinary people.
``While last night's Primetime is very welcome it is a programme that should have been produced and acted on many years ago. The issues that were raised need to be addressed and acted on immediately.''