President Mary McAleese has called for a clamp down on below par government workers.

Addressing a gathering of public service managers in Dublin on Thursday, the Irish president called on the government to "rigorously address" the issue as she encouraged the establishment of a "robust" system which would evaluate state employees' performances.

"It really ought to be possible to devise and implement a robust structure or framework that recognises and rewards good performance and at the same time tackles under-performance where it arises," she said.

Mrs McAleese said the current economic climate means that people want a bigger return for their taxes. "At a time when the public is rightly demanding greater accountability for its tax euros, any tolerance of under-performance is really damaging to the service in reputational terms. It is also corrosive of staff morale among those who are doing the job well," she said.

She acknowledged that the Taoiseach's Excellence Awards for public servants were a positive way of rewarding achievement, but she said she was disappointed they did not receive more coverage.