GARDAI had to use a privately owned 4x4 vehicle to reach an alleged rape victim in the snow because there were no official vehicles available.
The force has just 110 of the rugged terrain vehicles and most of these are deployed in Dublin, not the rural areas where gardai say they are sorely needed.
The lack of 4x4s fitted with winter tyres was raised at the AGSI annual conference. Delegates from Donegal, Roscommon Longford, Cork, Tipperary and Wicklow voiced concern that the availability of 4x4s was concentrated in the capital.
Divisional crime prevention officer from Letterkenny, Paul Wallace, said it was notable that this issue had been raised entirely by rural branches.
Mr Wallace pointed out that the garda fleet had 110 4x4 vehicles out of a total of 2,765, which was less than 4pc of the fleet.
Gardai in Letterkenny were called out at Christmas to investigate a report that a woman had been raped but because of the lack of 4x4s, they had to seek the help of a colleague, who used his own private vehicle to take them to the scene.
Mr Wallace said the Donegal division had only one 4x4 but this was for the traffic corps, and was based in Donegal town.
He mentioned another case in Donegal where the local mountain rescue service had to take over road traffic duties when gardai were grounded by the absence of suitable transport.