Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan has said she was "absolutely" correct to attend a conference in California while the force was preparing to go on strike.
The Garda chief was widely criticised for travelling to the four-day International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference in San Diego last October - but has now said it was "the right thing to do".
She arrived back in Ireland just a day before the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors began an unprecedented campaign of industrial action.
However, Ms O'Sullivan said An Garda Síochána had "international responsibilities" to live up to and the "world has become a much smaller place".
She said attending such events helped the force to be a "beacon of 21st policing".
"It isn't about going to a conference.
"It's about being there, interacting," she said.
"We want people to look at what we're doing," she said on RTÉ's 'Today with Sean O'Rourke' programme.
"At the same time there was very serious issues going on back home but as I mentioned, I as the equivalent of the CEO of the organisation, I have a team dealing with these issues," she said.
"I knew I was going to be back in plenty of time to do what I done."
Asked whether she was concerned by political criticism, Ms O'Sullivan said: "I have a very important job to do and it's a job I'm absolutely committed to doing."
Separately, the Commissioner said the force had made significant gun seizures in recent months that had lessened the capacity of gangs to murder.
She also praised gardaí involved in the seizure of €37.5m of cannabis at the weekend.
"We're very focused on tackling organised crime in all its forms. Drug trafficking forms a huge part of that," she said.
"The seizure at the weekend is a very significant seizure and what we are doing is continuing to work with colleagues both here with the Revenue service and also with international colleagues.
"The Drugs Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) has made significant inroads with some significant successes, with over €42m worth of drugs having been seized outside of this seizure and also firearms and ammunition.
"Since we have amalgamated the DOCB, we have had 35 firearms seized and a thousand rounds of ammunition which are hugely significant in undermining the capability of organised crime gangs to carry out attacks against each other, but also to make sure that we impact the profits that they can make from drugs.
"Their weekend seizure was very important in that regard."
Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald also praised the weekend seizure.
When asked if the seizure could cause further violence among warring gangs of criminals, the Tánaiste and Justice Minister said: "We have to be very vigilant in relation to the feud. Criminal gangs are involved in an escalation of revenge."