MORE than one child a week was abducted from Ireland last year.
The Central Authority for Child Abduction said it processed a total of 233 cases last year -- 140 of which were new applications, up from 139 in 2009.
Of the 140 new cases concerning 193 children, 64 were abductions into Ireland and 76 were out of the State.
Most took place between Ireland and Britain.
However, the rise in the number of foreigners coming to work in the State over the past decade has seen a growth in applications involving Eastern European countries and the United States.
Most children are snatched by one of their parents after a breakdown of the relationship.
In 15 of the 116 outgoing cases last year, foreign courts ordered the return of the children.
In six cases, the foreign court refused the return of the child and in nine cases the children were returned voluntarily or by agreement.
At the end of 2010, 50 cases were still awaiting resolution.
In the wake of the figures, former MEP Mary Banotti is calling on the Government to monitor the number of reported child abduction cases involving Sharia Law countries which have not signed international conventions on the issue.
"All of the calls we received last year were from people who were concerned about children abducted into Sharia Law countries. What we need now is better policing of adults leaving this country with children to ensure both parents have given their consent, as is the case in the US and Canada," she said.
The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter said: "It is important at times of family conflict that estranged spouses and estranged parents seek to resolve differences by agreement . . . and do not unilaterally remove children."