Justice Minister Dermot Ahern has said that the Government will take legal action against gardaí if they decide to go on strike.
It follows an announcement by the Garda Representative Association that it is going to ballot its members on industrial action, even though gardai are not legally allowed to withdraw their labour.
The GRA says its taking the action in response to the collapse of pay talks with the Government last week.
But Minister Ahern said gardaí who go on strike leave themselves open to both civil and criminal legal action.
"We will pursue anything within the law," Minister Ahern said. "The people who uphold the law can't be law-breakers… no society can countenance that, no democracy can countenance that.
"I think people need to reflect on this. The only thing that this will do - if they were to go on strike - the only people it would help would be the criminals."