THE gardai are in the market for three second-hand family cars, but are refusing say what they will be used for other than that they are for "operational purposes".
A notice place on the government's eTender website calls for potential sellers to make offers.
It states: "An Garda Siochana invites tenders to tender for supply, of up to three pre-owned vehicles referred to in the industry as a "D" or large family segment class type in a 4-door saloon for An Garda Siochana."
The Garda last night did not respond to questions asking if the cars are to be used as squad cars or unmarked vehicles.
Nor would they specify the maximum mileage or oldest vehicle they would consider in purchasing the three cars.
A spokesman said: "The purpose of the vehicles are for operational purposes and all relevant details are contained in the tender documentation which has been issued.
"The responsibility for the efficient deployment of all official Garda vehicles in each division is assigned to the divisional officer, who may allocate vehicles between stations as required by operational circumstances."
Department of Justice figures show that garda vehicle numbers dropped from 2,814 in 2009 to 2,474 last year.
In October Justice Minister Alan Shatter announced that the Garda fleet is to get 305 new cars before the end of the year.
A total of €5m is being spent on the new cars – a mix of Fords and Hyundais – with a further €4m set to be spent on new vehicles in the first half of next year.
Mr Shatter said at the time: "A great deal of work has taken place to ensure that these vehicles could be made available quickly and that the tender process was completed without delay.
"It is a clear indication of my commitment to ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, An Garda Siochana are provided with sufficient resources to enable them to deliver an effective and efficient policing service".
Last night a Justice spokesman referred queries about the tender for three second hand vehicles to the gardai.