GARDAI have appealed to anyone with information on prostitution or brothels to contact after last week’s Operation Quest which was the country’s biggest ever crackdown on brothels.
Inspector Kieran Keyes told the Leinster Express that while bothels are not prevelant in Laois and Offaly, a number of brothels in operation across the two counties and were raided.
“A number of places were searched in both Tullamore and Portlaoise and the evidence is being put together in a file to be sent to the DPP. It is a real issue in Portlaoise and Tullamore, but no more than any other provincial town in Ireland. It has developed a lot over the past couple of years, especially with the internet.
“It is a lot harder to get a handle on it now as someone for instance could book into a hotel room and be gone after a couple of weeks, where before people operating out of houses for a longer period of time”.
Inspector Keyes said that if people notice anything suspicious to make contact with their local Garda station immediately. He said that people can raise any concerns they have confidentially with the Gardai.
“People can look out for an increase in activity coming to and from a house or premises, or an increase in taxis visiting a place over a short period of time. The people concerned also tend to be male”. He added that Gardai would be appealing for anyone with any information to come forward and contact the Gardai.
Laois Offaly TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy commended Operation Quest and described sex trafficking as modern day slavery.
“It is deeply saddening to consider that, in this day and age, women are being treated in this way, being victimised and exploited, in what is tantamount to modern day slavery, when at their most vulnerable,” she said.
As well as contacting the Gardai, people can also contact the charity Ruhama for more information. Ruhama is an organisation that supports women affected by prostitution. The organisation recently launched a campaign to raise awareness of prostitution in Ireland, called ‘Women sell sex because they have to, not because they want to’.
Speaking to the Leinster Express, Gerardine Rowly of Ruhama recommended people in Laois to contact the authorities if they see anything suspicious. “The sex trade is in every county in Ireland. Awareness can help women break free of the sex trade, and if people see anything suspicious they should contact their local Gardaí”.