The Garda Ombudsman has rejected claims that it may have a role in hindering the garda's ability to effectively police public order incidents.

Garda associations have said that fear of Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) oversight is preventing some gardaí from using appropriate and proportionate force.

The Garda Commissioner has accepted that there is "a chill factor" caused by long drawn-out complaint investigations.

Public representatives have called on gardaí to use more force when policing violent and riotous incidents.

The image of a lone garda who did not draw his baton after he was surrounded and attacked by a violent mob on O'Connell street last Thursday has put the force's approach to policing under the spotlight.

Both the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors have told the Garda Commissioner that there is a fear among gardaí to use proportional force because of excessive oversight.

General Secretary of the AGSI Antoinette Cunningham strongly criticised the Garda Ombudsman today as unaccountable, saying its investigations often take years and have moved colleagues into a state of paralysis in their use of necessary force

This afternoon GSOC insisted that this was "categorically not the case" and that its oversight does not hinder the garda's ability to effectively and appropriately police public order incidents.

It says it independently investigates complaints, it does not discipline, suspend or prosecute gardaí and has no role in operational policing.

Helen McEntee did not rule out further changes to GSOC in future

Earlier, the Minister for Justice said some gardaí are unsure about the level of force they can use in certain situations and the Policing Authority will now provide clarity on what is permitted.

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Helen McEntee said she does not want any garda to have any doubt about this when they are responding to scenes such as those seen in Dublin last Thursday night.

The minister said no garda "should have to stop and think as to how they protect themselves, how they protect our city and how they protect members of the public".

Ms McEntee promised that gardaí would get absolute clarity about the way in which they can respond to "these types of thugs and criminals who tried to physically assault members of the gardaí".

Further arrests are likely in the weeks and months ahead, the minster said.

The Policing Authority said in a statement this afternoon that it noted the minister's intention to engage with the authority and that it will consider how best to respond once the request is received.

Gardaí 'second-guessing themselves' - AGSI

Ms McEntee added that an oversight body such as the GSOC is absolutely needed, but it could work better in terms of the length of time cases are taking and the processes used.

The Community Policing and Security Bill, which will be enacted before the end of the year, will make significant changes to GSOC and how it conducts its investigations, she said.

Ms McEntee also did not rule out additional changes to GSOC in the future.

Ms Cunningham said lengthy GSOC investigations have caused gardaí to second-guess themselves when it comes to policing in a situation where they may have to use force.

She told RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne: "When it comes to policing in a situation where they know themselves they may have to use force - their baton or pepper spray. If they do, they know they'll be writing about it for at least three months afterwards."

She said that the AGSI supports accountability but that there is no accountability for GSOC and investigations can go on for "three and five and seven years".

Investigations that are taking longer than a year should be subject to review by a judge or retired judge, she added.

Meanwhile, Ms McEntee promised that there would be a strong and visible garda presence maintained in Dublin in the lead up to Christmas and throughout the festive period.

She said the child and the carer who were stabbed in Dublin last Thursday afternoon remain in hospital and are critically ill.

Additional reporting: Mícheál Lehane