114 children listed as missing
More than 100 children remain on Ireland's missing persons list, it has been revealed.
But one of the country's most senior Garda officers said there was no way to compare the figures with overseas countries because of "protocols" used to record them in Ireland.
John O'Mahoney, Garda assistant commissioner, said 114 children who were reported missing over the past five years have still not been found. Of these, 106 vanished while under state care.
"The vast majority - and I can't give a specific figure - of those 114 children are either of African or Asian origin," said Mr O'Mahoney.
The whereabouts of another 98 adults - over the age of 18 years and who also vanished during the past five years - also remain unknown.
Appearing before an Oireachtas hearing on missing persons, Mr O'Mahoney said Interpol - the international police co-operation agency - has been notified about each of the children still missing in Ireland. They are put on a "yellow notice" database issued to police forces around the world.
The assistant commissioner said the Garda would be notified if the children are ever located by other law enforcement agencies.
But Detective chief superintendent John O'Driscoll, of the Garda national immigration bureau, said that in many cases missing foreign national children had nothing to do with human trafficking.
There were more than 40,500 reports to the Garda of missing persons over the past five years - averaging around 8,000 every year. But Mr O'Mahoney said the actual number of people involved was closer to 4,000 a year because of repeat disappearances by some individuals.
Of these, 212 are still recorded as missing, 140 of them men or boys and 72 women or girls. Some 163 are originally from outside Ireland, while 49 are Irish citizens.