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Prostitution programme 'showed the appalling abuse of women' - Taoiseach

Enda Kenny told the Dáil today that the government intends to introduce legislation to clamp down on the prostitution industry in Ireland.

Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has said that the RTÉ programme investigating the prostitution industry in Ireland showed the “appalling abuse of women all over the country”.

He told the Dáil today that the government is “actively considering” a number of options to clampdown on the illegal sale of sex in Ireland and plans to introduce legislation later this year.

The RTÉ Prime Time programme Profiting from Prostitution revealed the extent of Ireland’s illegal sex trade. Reporter Paul Maguire tracked down a number of people who were alleged to have run organised prostitution rackets and exposed them by name.

Around 700 women are thought to be advertising the sale of sex in Ireland online with the programme alleging that more than 4,000 mobile phones are being used by those selling sex. The programme also said that brothels have been established in nearly every town and city in Ireland.

Responding to a question from Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin during the order of business today, Kenny said that he had not seen the programme but added: “I believe this was a programme that showed the appalling abuse of women all over the country.”

He said that the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter was looking at the criminal law surrounding prostitution and said that the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences Act) would be introduced in the Dáil later this year.

While the practice itself is legal, most activities associated with prostitution such as soliciting for it in a public place, the operation of brothels, trafficking of people for the purposes of sexual exploitation and other forms of pimping are illegal.

Kenny praised the producers of the programme – which was the first in the Prime Time Investigates series since the Fr Kevin Reynolds debacle – saying they were to “be complimented for bringing this to the public domain”.

He also praised the work of support group Ruhama which earlier said that the Prime Time programme had left “no stone unturned in exposing the reality of the Irish sex trade”.

“The use and abuse of these women by Irish men appears to have been extraordinary prevalent according to that programme,”  the Taoiseach said.

Speaking later during the order of business Labour TD for Wicklow, Anne Ferris, said that it was “absolutely scandalous” that women were being “trafficked around Ireland” for sex.

She urged the government to clamp down on websites “making millions” from the industry.

Responding, the Taoiseach said that it was “very difficult to legislate for them”, referring to websites that advertise prostitution services, as in some cases their servers are based outside of this jurisdiction.

“It’s an issue that will obviously be reacted to by government and I’ve said the Sexual Offences Act is due for bringing into the house later this year,” he added.

RTÉ praised for ‘hard hitting’ programme on prostitution

View the full programme on the RTÉ Player here>

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Hugh O'Connell

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