There was an increase in the number of requests for advice last year from the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Latest figures from the National Board show that there was a 51% increase in advice requests in 2020 compared to the previous year.

There were 134 complaints of abuse; 42 related to diocesan priests, 92 related to members of religious orders.

The CEO of the National Board has said the increase for assistance was not unexpected.

Many local safeguarding teams shrank during the pandemic so the dioceses and congregations turned to the National Board for advice and support according to Teresa Devlin.

The increase in advice requests shows an escalation of demand from 'independents'.

Independents can be complainants, statutory personnel, international safeguarding personnel or members of the public.

Most often advice to independents relates to procedural or guidance matters.

The Board has pointed out that when a diocese or religious order notifies it of an allegation against a cleric or non-ordained religious, no name or other identifying information is provided.

Ms Devlin said this means there is no way for the National Board to establish whether there is more than one allegation against any particular notified individual, or whether a complainant has alleged that more than one person has abused them.

"Because of the legal restrictions imposed by data protection legislation compliance, severe limitations exist in analysing and interpreting such information. What is presented here is simply the raw data that the National Board has received in the twelve months being reported on."