Concerns have been raised about how gardaí are recording domestic violence incidents after official figures show there was nearly five times more incidents in Northern Ireland last year, a country with less than half the population of the republic.

Domestic violence is thought to be hugely under-reported but the figures indicate a large disparity between north and south.

New garda figures recorded just under 6,000 domestic violence incidents for 2016.

However, in Northern Ireland, the comparable figure was nearly 29,000 - despite the much smaller population.

A garda spokesman has said it would have to examine the apparent discrepancy between the figures.

"We do need an explanation as to why the guards think that is the case," said Orla O'Connor, director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

"We know that it is very difficult for women to report domestic violence but that goes for here as it does for the north," said Ms O'Connor.

Since gardaí began recording domestic violence three years ago, there has been a 40% increase.

This has been put down to improvements in how incidents are treated - rather than an increased prevalence.

In 2014, a Garda Inspectorate report found there was little oversight into how domestic violence calls were responded to by gardaí.