THE number of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) spotted across Ireland has increased by nearly 70% in just three years.
The UFO Research Association of Ireland revealed that 59 incidents were reported in 2011, compared with 42 the year before and just 35 in 2009.
Association founder Adam Tallon suggested people are becoming more open to the possibility of UFOs and therefore feel more comfortable reporting a sighting to its website.
"I would like to believe that there is life out in the universe somewhere, whether it's walking or talking beings or microscopic bacteria I don't know," said Mr Tallon.
The association has been able to attribute most sightings to ball lighting and Chinese lanterns but its main interests lie in UFOs that cannot be explained by conventional means.
According to its website, these include incidents where the objects seem to be intelligently controlled or have been seen carrying out precise manoeuvres that are impossible for any known air or space crafts.
"As a young child I saw something strange in the night sky," said Mr Tallon.
"But as I was young it's very possible that the incident was embellished over the years and was nothing more then a meteor or some other natural phenomena."
Mr Tallon founded the group in 2005 but it officially became the UFO Research Association of Ireland in 2008 when it adopted its current system to track reported incidents.
"There is a slow but gradual increase in incidents being reported which I would attribute to two things," Mr Tallon went on.
"The first that there wasn't really any place to report incidents prior to our organisation and secondly I would attribute the increase to people being more comfortable reporting an incident compared to say 10 years ago."
Mr Tallon said people are not required to give any personal information to report a UFO which can be done through the organisation's website ufoi.org.
He suggested it is this confidentiality that encourages people who may otherwise have been unsure or embarrassed to report a UFO.