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Dublin: 17 °C Sunday 31 May, 2020

"Pimps may look south" warning, as Stormont votes to criminalise paying for sex

Northern Ireland is the first part of the UK to support the measure, which makes it illegal to obtain sexual services for payment.

CAMPAIGN GROUP THE Immigrant Council of Ireland has issued a stark warning to TDs here, after lawmakers in Northern Ireland voted by a huge majority to make it a crime to pay for sex.

Stormont MLAs spent several hours yesterday debating the the measures, which formed part of a private member’s bill  — one of which makes it illegal to obtain sexual services for payment.

Opponents of the bill included Justice Minister David Ford, the BBC reports, who claimed the new law would be difficult to enforce.

Northern Ireland is the first part of the UK to support the measure — although there’s still work to be done before it becomes law.

The ICI warns in a statement that “pimps may look south” as a result of the development.

A swift response from TDs is needed, the group warns, to ensure the south doesn’t become a ‘soft target’ for traffickers and pimp.

“We warmly welcome the fact that members of the Northern Ireland Assembly responded to the testimony of frontline agencies and our other partners by making this historic decision approving sex buyer laws by 81 votes to 10,” CEO of the ICI Denise Charlton said.

“The vote sends a direct message to pimps and traffickers that Northern Ireland is no longer open for business – however, there must now be genuine concerns that gangs which are losing out in the North will concentrate south of the border.

It is time for TDs and the Government to end the delay in introducing similar laws here and prevent that happening.

Along with groups like ICTU and the INMO, the Immigrant Council of Ireland has been engaged in a long-running campaign to bring in ’sex buyer’ laws.

Read: Stardust campaigners to hand new information to Minister over fatal fire

Read: ‘Despicable’ and ‘mischievous’: Taoiseach and Gerry Adams in war of words

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