The Catholic Church's child protection watchdog has said there was a slight increase in the number of allegations notified to it during 2018/19 compared to the previous year.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland said the increase was from 135 in 2017/18 to 143 in 2018/19, an increase of 6%.

It also said that there was an overall decrease in allegations related to the sexual abuse of children from 108 in the previous year to 88 in the year being reported on, a decrease of 18.5%.

The figures are contained in the organisation's annual report, which details its work to the year ending 31 March 2019.

However, CEO Teresa Devlin said this data must be described as "under reservation".

She said that: "Due to either the church authority not having complete information, or to them not fully completing the notification form, there are gaps in the data being reported in this section.

"Further, the implementation of the Data Protection Acts 2018 has affected the quality and amount of information that the Church authorities notify to the National Office."

Ms Devlin said that notifications that do not identify the person against whom the allegation has been made result in her office being unable to establish whether this person has previously been notified. 

She said this introduces the risk of double counting.