A GARDA association has hit back at a Fine Gael TD who taunted their leader by telling him "to get a real job".
Dublin TD Derek Keating accused PJ Stone of being "grossly irresponsible" by encouraging people "to rise up" against the Government's plan to close garda stations
The Dublin Mid-West politician said Mr Stone should "put on a uniform and go do real work" .
He claimed Mr Stone, general secretary of the Garda Representative Association (GRA), made comments that were "unpatriotic and an attempt to undermine our national recovery".
A GRA spokesman said the Government TD's scathing attack on Mr Stone was merely "a smokescreen".
"Gardai are denied a political voice and so are entitled to representation through their staff association.
"These comments appear to be a smokescreen to deflect the public's attention away from Government policy of closing garda stations," said the spokesman.
"The closure of garda stations will change the way gardai police the country from within the community. The public will be outraged when their garda stations are closed," he added.
Mr Keating had called on Mr Stone to retract his "inflammatory" statements.
The TD said: "The gardai hold a special place in Irish society and play a fundamental role in maintaining order.
"Calls by the GRA for citizens who hear of local stations being earmarked for closure to do everything in their power to resist such moves are incitement and against the pledge a garda swears when graduating.
"Encouraging citizens of the State to rise up against the Government of the day by demonstrating against Government policy is, in my view, a step too far and grossly irresponsible.
"Mr Stone should be well aware of the crisis that this country faces financially, which has forced the present Government to make tough decisions," he said.
In a statement issued earlier this week, Mr Keating said: "Mr PJ Stone should put on a uniform and go and do real work and stop rabble-rousing."
Mr Keating said Justice Minister Alan Shatter has given assurances that any changes will result in a modernisation of the force and mean more gardai on the beat.
The Fine Gael TD tabled a question in the Dail asking the Minister for Justice what State funds are given to the GRA and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.
He also wanted to know what other State supports are given to the two associations in terms of secondment of staff, benefits in kind, and salaries paid to individual officials.