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Sex workers in Galway are victims of trafficking




As many as 55 prostitutes were working in Galway in the run-up to Christmas, according to a support group for the women.

But it has also been revealed these numbers change daily as women and girls are moved around the country to satisfy the demand for paid sex.

“Women are just like pawns in the whole structure of it,” said Linda Latham of The Women’s Health Project; a sexual health and support service for women working in prostitution.

Many of the women, it is reported, become involved in prostitution from a young age, often through means of deception and human trafficking.

A recent RTÉ investigative documentary: ‘Sex for Sale’, highlighted the vicious nature of prostitution for women in Ireland – where rape, violence and forced criminality is a common experience.

Over the same weekend, ‘Escort Ireland’ advertised the services of 712 women for sale across the country. It is believed that at any one time there are between 40 and 60 operating in Galway City, though seasonal peaks such as the Galway Races can see the figure soar around 200.

‘Turn off the Red Light’, a campaign to end prostitution and sex trafficking in Ireland, is an alliance of unions, non-governmental organisations and individuals. Their 73 agencies with 1.6 million members are now calling on political parties to support the Sexual Offences Bill, and see it swiftly through the legislative process. (There are five stages involved in passing the legislation).

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Francis Fitzgerald published the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2015 in September (first stage). The Bill proposed wide ranging reforms of the law, with an overarching theme on addressing sexual exploitation, in particular of children and those engaged in prostitution.

The new legislation will target those who pay to engage in sexual activity with sex workers, and tougher penalties will be imposed on those who buy sexual services from victims of human trafficking.

Not all sex workers are duped or coerced into the lifestyle – however evidence suggests the majority are. Statistics indicate 98% of sex workers in Ireland are migrants – predominantly from Romania and Bulgaria, though advertised as Spanish and Italian on escort websites. These women are more often than not, illegal immigrants with little education or skills; therefore escape is problematic and they often find themselves trapped.

Women put their health and safety at risk whilst ‘pimps’ cut 50% of the profits without risk. It is reported the average sex worker in Galway will charge €50-€60 per half hour – with extra charges imposed for particular services.

Denise Charlton, an expert on trafficking with The Immigrant Council of Ireland stated: “Almost without exception the women we support who have been trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation speak of entering prostitution as young teenage girls.

“They are in complete isolation, under constant pressure from criminal bosses. This leads to taking risks with their personal and sexual health and long term trauma. We call for much-needed action to stop the pimps and traffickers, and to end the demand for suffering.”


€3bn plan for new hospitals at Merlin Park

Denise McNamara



How the 200-bed elective hospital may 'fit' into the grounds of Merlin Park Hospital.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 1,150-bed acute hospital and a separate 200-bed elective hospital at Merlin Park – costing in the region of €3 billion and taking up to 15 years to deliver – are included in a new report on health infrastructure needs for Galway.

A review of hospital requirements has produced ambitious proposals for the elective hospital – costing around €1.2bn and taking a decade to build – and acute hospital to replace UHG which would take 15 years to deliver.

The so-called ‘options appraisal’ conducted on behalf of the Saolta University Health Care Group concluded that separating acute and planned services – through the development of a purpose-built elective facility – will greatly improve efficiency and patient access by reducing waiting times and cancellations.

It will allow the Saolta Hospital Group to significantly increase the level of day surgery and reduce length of stay for patients.

Currently there are 46,000 people on a waiting list between the two hospitals with a further 14,000 patients travelling to Dublin from the Saolta region every year for treatment.

“The demand capacity gap will grow to a shortfall of 276 beds at Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin combined] alone. Do nothing is not an option,” consultants KPMG wrote.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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Minister gives go-ahead to army accommodation plan




The USAC complex in Renmore, which is set to be redeveloped.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A 50-year-old building at Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa in Renmore is to be renovated to provide additional accommodation for members of the Defence Forces, the Minister for Defence has confirmed.

Minister Paul Kehoe (FG) told the Dáil that the former University Students Administrative Complement (USAC) complex would be redesigned to accommodate 120 persons living in single rooms.

“The rooms are fitted out to a basic standard and ablution facilities are provided communally. The building is nearly 50 years old and does not meet current standards with respect to building constriction methodology, fire prevention measures and energy efficiency,” said Minister Kehoe.

While currently in its early design stages, it is expected that construction work would commence late next year, he added.

USAC is a purpose-built facility constructed in the 1970s to accommodate Officers of the Defence Forces undertaking courses at third level institutes in Galway.

While located adjacent to the barracks in Renmore, it is outside the confines of the barracks and is self-contained with its own access and parking.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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Taskforce gets down to work in Ballybane

Enda Cunningham



Aoife Tully having fun in Ballybane Playground.

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The Ballybane Task Force is on a mission.

Since the cooperative made up of all major stakeholders set up two years ago, they have set themselves the goal of highlighting the positive work in train in the eastern suburb while providing support for community, voluntary and residents’ groups that currently operate.

They also want to encourage the participation of all locals – new and long-term – in activities while giving support to developing projects and initiatives.

Already the Task Force has spearheaded some tangible results. Last week, a homework club for secondary school students opened and an afterschool service for primary students will begin in January following the recruitment of staff.

There was further good news earlier this year with the redevelopment of the derelict Ballybane Neighbourhood Centre. It is set to be transformed into a revitalised enterprise centre, scheduled to be open in January.

One of the first tasks the group pursued was to identify gaps in resources and services across Ballybane and lay out a blueprint for action.

They secured funding to appoint a consultant to review this in depth and make recommendations.

The results of that needs analysis have just been published. Its overview of the area’s deprivation makes for stark reading.

Ballybane is described as the area where the older housing estates are bordered by Ballybane Road, Monivea Road and the Dublin Road, but excluding the Doughiska development.

It has a male unemployment rate of 25% or over – compared to a 15% average in the city – a lone parent rate of 35% or higher (24% in the city) and a 35% rate of children leaving school in the early years of secondary school (17%). Just one fifth go onto third level, compared to half elsewhere in the city.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this feature on the regeneration of ballybane, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. Buy a digital edition of this week’s paper here, or download the app for Android or iPhone.

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