Criticism of the Garda Commissioner by Fianna Fáil Senator Mark Daly led to sharp exchanges.
Mr Daly said despite being an insider, it had been promised Nóirín O’Sullivan would sweep the force clean.
“Somehow or other, the commissioner saw nothing when so many penalty points were being quashed,” he said.
Cathaoirleach Paddy Burke intervened to say that his remarks were unfair to the commissioner’s reputation because she was not present to defend herself.
Mr Daly said there were issues raised at the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality with the commissioner present.
“She would be most welcome if she were to come to the House to defend herself,” he added.
Pat O’Neill (FG) called on Mr Daly to withdraw his remark.
Ivana Bacik (Lab) said she welcomed Ms O’Sullivan’s appointment, following a recommendation made by the Public Appointments Service, as the only suitable candidate.
“It is important to note there was an open and transparent recruitment and appointment process,” said Ms Bacik. “It is also important that we would all support her in the ongoing important work of reforming the Garda Síochána.”
Ms Bacik said they were all conscious, after this year in particular, of the need for reform. She called for a Seanad debate on policing reform, specifically in light of the recent Garda Inspectorate report which threw up particular questions around the recording of crime statistics.
Ms Bacik said she had raised the issue in the House previously and suggested the debate be held in the new year.