Garda domestic violence figures 'too low'
There are concerns about how gardaí are recording domestic violence after official figures show there were five times more incidents in Northern Ireland last year, a country with less than half the population of the Republic.
The previously unpublished statistics by gardaí show officers responded to 5,988 incidents involving domestic violence in 2016.
There were 4,640 incidents recorded in 2015 and 3,678 in 2014 when gardaí first started tracking the area.
In Northern Ireland, the PSNI recorded 28,811 domestic abuse incidents between October 2015 and September 2016. During the last Christmas period alone, there were 2,656 domestic violence reports to the force. Northern Ireland has nearly three million fewer people than the Republic.
Orla O'Connor, director of the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI), said the Garda figures seemed too low to be reliable.
"I feel they are too low. I would have thought they would be higher. When you look at the comparative figures in Northern Ireland, I think we do have to question the Garda figures."
A Garda spokesman said it would have to examine the apparent discrepancy between the figures.
Ms O'Connor welcomed the fact that gardaí have started monitoring the issue and are releasing statistics for the first time.
"It's definitely to be welcomed but we would like to see greater reporting by the guards and also a better breakdown of the data.
"We need to find out things like the relationships between victims and offenders. We need more data than just these bare numbers."
The Garda figures show a rise of 40pc of reported instances of domestic abuse between 2014 and 2016. A Garda spokesman said there could be several reasons for this.
"The rise requires further study to determine whether they are due to better recording, increased reporting, more incidents of domestic violence or a combination of all three," he said.
Ms O'Connor agreed the huge increase did not necessarily mean more domestic violence was occurring.
"It could be that more people are reporting it and guards are getting better at recording it," she said. "If this is an indication of increased reporting of domestic violence instances, that is really to be welcomed because we know there is a massive under-reporting in Ireland."