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Dublin: 7 °C Wednesday 24 January, 2018
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‘It wouldn’t happen in D4’: Locals plan to block streets ahead of U2 gig to protest ‘red light district’

The protesters allege that two massage parlours in the area are operating as brothels while a third business, which has since closed, was also a front for prostitution.

LOCAL RESIDENTS ARE planning dramatic protests ahead of upcoming Coldplay and U2 concerts at Croke Park to highlight a number of massage parlours on Dublin’s northside that they allege are operating as brothels.

Carrying placards reading “No to Red light district” and “People not pimps”, the demonstrators have already staged several protests on Dorset Street over the past month.

They allege that two massage parlours in the area are operating as brothels while a third business, which has since closed, was also a front for prostitution.

At a meeting on Wednesday night the group set out plans for further rallies before upcoming, high profile events including Coldplay’s gig at Croke Park on Saturday, the Leinster Football final next week and U2’s concert at GAA headquarters on 22 July.

“Sit down protest”

The group plan to up the ante by staging a “sit down protest” to block Dorset street on the night of the U2 concert.

Such a move could cause traffic problems as a huge volume of vehicles will be using the already busy street.

Local resident PJ Brennan, who has attended the demonstrations, said they are looking for action from gardaí and politicians.

One opens and it’s a snowball effect you know. One of them gets away with it and then the next person opens one up… There’s three or four here that we want to close down.

Brennan says the protests are already having an effect: “We’ve been out now a few times and I believe one’s closed down and when we come along the others close their shutters.”

Investigations

Fianna Fáil activist Brian Mohan, who is involved in organising the demonstrations, said the group has been engaging with the gardaí.

“Investigations have found that certain things are going on in certain places that shouldn’t be. They’re not what they advertised and not what the buildings are for. So we’re just trying to keep the pressure up,” Mohan said.

The group is looking for the businesses to be shut down.

“There are young kids in the area and there are houses facing these properties and there are families growing up in this area and they shouldn’t have to put up with this to be quite honest with you.

It wouldn’t happen in Dublin 4, it wouldn’t happen on O’Connell Street why should it happen here?

“We did commit to going out and blocking the roads for the U2 concert. So we’re going to come out on Saturday for the Coldplay concert when there will be a heightened crowd in the area.”

Mohan explained that the group will not block the roads on Saturday but will line the pavement holding placards. “We’re just trying to get as much public attention as we possibly can,” he said.

After meeting with the gardaí the other day they said the more attention you can draw to this the quicker we can get to do something, because more funds [will be] put into it.

“The residents don’t just care about their area, they also care about the welfare of the women who are working in these premises,” Mohan concluded.

Vulnerable witnesses

In a case such as this, the trouble investigators face is that when something is fronting as a legitimate massage parlour it can be difficult to prove that it isn’t what it claims to be.

Another layer of difficulty comes from the fact that the sex workers, who are the key, and most vulnerable witnesses, often have incredibly strong reasons for not coming forward.

Human trafficking

Sex workers who were trafficked into Ireland are often in debt bondage to ruthless and powerful international gangs. They and their families face very genuine danger if they cross the trafficking gangs to whom they are bonded.

Speaking about the plight faced by trafficked sex workers Sarah Benson of Ruhama, who support women affected by prostitution and trafficking, said:

We are aware that people trafficked for prostitution purposes can face very complex situations. A lot of factors in their own situation can prevent them from coming forward.

“As a frontline organisation we support interventions by gardaí that combat those who profit from prostitution,” she said.

Read: Stolen boys: Life after sexual slavery in Afghanistan>

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