Only 18 per cent of the public want the gardai caught on tape making comments about rape to be sacked and prosecuted, according to the findings of a Sunday Independent/Quantum Research telephone poll.
More than half the respondents -- 58 per cent -- thought that the gardai should be reprimanded and retrained.
Those opting for sacking and prosecution found the behaviour totally unacceptable and argued this would serve as a warning to others in the force and also reassure the public that such behaviour would not be tolerated.
One female city-dweller said: "I feel it is totally blown out of proportion and that type of conversation takes place every day."
While another said: "I think they should be reprimanded so long as their behaviour isn't indicative of their conversation."
However, a female country-dweller said: "They shouldn't get the opportunity to be retrained. You don't need to be trained to know what was said was horrific."
A male city-dweller said: "I think what the gardai were joking about is abhorrent and disgusting. The whole organisation is male-dominated and is clearly still in dire need of reform."
Of those polled, 58 per cent thought that the private conversation of the gardai recorded on a camera belonging to anti-Shell protesters was such that they should be reprimanded and retrained.
In all, 18 per cent thought they should be sacked, six per cent thought they should be prosecuted and 18 per cent thought they should be sacked and prosecuted.
Among the 18 per cent of those polled who opted for sacking and prosecution many found the behaviour totally unacceptable and wanted decisive action taken. Some argued that this would serve as a warning to others in the force and also reassure the public, and women in particular, that such behaviour would not be tolerated.
But among the majority of people who believe that a reprimand and retraining is the appropriate response, many suggested that coverage of the incident in the media had been "over the top".
One woman said: "I think they were comments made by frustrated gardai. No doubt that they were wrong but I don't think it reflects on their ability to do their job and it's clear they meant no harm."