198 children here targeted in abductions
NEW abduction cases involving 198 children were dealt with by the Irish authorities last year.
Some 142 new cases, involving 198 children, were handled by the Central Authority for Child Abduction at Justice Minister Alan Shatter's department.
Mr Shatter said parental child abduction is a "constant problem".
All options between estranged spouses need to be exhausted in the best interests of children, he added.
Some 53 of the investigations concerned children being taken into Ireland from abroad, while the remaining 89 related to youngsters being removed from the country.
A total of 119 cases were still active from 2010, bringing to 261 the overall number of ongoing probes last year.
The central authority said 87 of the 142 new investigations involved the United Kingdom, 10 related to Poland and six concerned Latvia.
A further 22 involved other European countries. Abductions between Ireland and the US, Canada, Australia and South Africa also took place.
The Irish Central Authority was set up following the Child Abduction and Enforcement of Custody Orders Act 1991.
Mr Shatter said: "Parental child abduction remains a constant problem. When family conflict occurs, it is important that estranged parents and spouses exhaust all their options to resolve differences and reach agreement in the best interests of the children involved.
"The use of mediation to resolve difficulties can result in agreements that can last while minimising the negative impact on all those involved.
"To help families access mediation, the Family Mediation Service has now been formally merged with the Legal Aid Board.
"The Government has also approved my proposals for a Mediation Bill which is currently being drafted. Within my remit, I will continue to work to improve the measures available to families."
Of the 119 cases still active from 2010, 60 involved children being taken into the country.