More than 23,000 child protection referrals were made by An Garda Síochána to Túsla last year.

Last year, the Child and Family Agency managed 69,712 referrals to child protection and welfare services compared to 56,561 in 2019.

Figures released to Aontú show a break down of the source of referrals last year and for the first six months of this year.

The highest number of child protection referrals in 2020 (23,209) were made by gardaí.

Of those, 624 were referred for physical abuse, 5,423 for emotional abuse, 1097 for sexual abuse, 719 for neglect and 8,467 as child welfare concerns.

6,879 are described as "null".

5,840 referrals were made by social workers last year and 5,308 by teachers.

In the first six months of this year, 12,818 garda child protection referrals were made.

3,650 were by social workers and 3,033 by a non specified "mandated person".

2,910 of the child protection referrals to Túsla between January and June were made by teachers.

Aontú leader Peadar Tóbín described the "climb" in the number of referrals last year as "a cause for concern".

Deputy Tóbín noted that the number of referrals from managers of Direct Provision centres in 2020 was higher than the number of referrals from addiction counsellors.

He questioned what it said about "the state of the direct provision system".

According to the figures, in 2020, 82 Managers of Direct Provision Centres referred children to Túsla.

79 child protection referrals were by addiction counsellors.

Mr Tóbín said that he firmly believed that lockdowns and harsh restrictions put vulnerable children at considerable risk.

"The government must undertake an assessment of the impact lockdowns and Covid-19 response measures have had on vulnerable children in this State", he said.