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Sex workers in Galway are victims of trafficking

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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.”

CITY TRIBUNE

Council to consider new pedestrian ‘plaza’ for Galway City

Stephen Corrigan

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors will be asked next month to consider a sweeping overhaul of traffic flow in the city centre as the local authority seeks to create a more pedestrian-friendly core in the wake of Covid-19.

Currently under proposal in City Hall are major alterations to traffic flow which will allow for restricted car access to Middle Street – creating additional outdoor seating space for businesses in the area struggling to cope amid social distancing requirements.

Senior Engineer at City Hall, Uinsinn Finn, said they are currently considering three different proposals to alter traffic flow on Merchants Road, Augustine Street and Flood Street to reduce the need for car access to Middle Street, while still maintaining access for residents.

“We already pedestrianised Cross Street and we will be maintaining that, and there will be a proposal for Middle Street and Augustine Street.

“Businesses in the area are very much in favour of pedestrianisation – one business has objections but the others are supportive. Another consideration is that there are residents there with parking spaces and we are trying to encourage people to live in the city centre,” said Mr Finn.

The Latin Quarter business group submitted proposals for the temporary pedestrianisation of Middle Street and Abbeygate Street Lower but Mr Finn said the proposals the Council were considering were more in the line of creating adequate space for pedestrians while still allowing residents vehicular access.

This would involve creating a circuit for car traffic moving through Merchants Road around onto Augustine Street and exiting at Flood Street.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Residents want laneway closed following pipe bomb scare

Francis Farragher

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in part of Knocknacarra are calling for the closure of a laneway and for more Community Gardaí to be put on the beat following the discovery of a ‘viable’ pipe-bomb type device in the area last weekend.

Up to 13 homes in the Cimín Mór and Manor Court estates had to be evacuated on Friday evening last when the incendiary device was discovered by Gardaí concealed in an unlit laneway, leading to the emergency services being notified.

An Army EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) unit was called to the scene and removed the device – according to local residents and councillors, the Gardaí have confirmed that the device was viable.

Gardaí have declined to comment on the detail of the case but have confirmed that the matter is being ‘actively and vigorously investigated’.

Chairman of the Cimín Mór Residents’ Association, Pat McCarthy, told the Galway City Tribune that the discovery of the viable device on the narrow laneway that links their estate to Manor Court was extremely frightening for all concerned.

“For the best part of the past 20 years, we have been seeking action to be taken on this laneway which has been used for dumping and unsociable behaviour on a repeated basis.

“But what happened last Friday evening was really the last straw for us. This could have resulted in serious injury to innocent people and what is also of concern to us is how close this was to the two schools in the area,” said Mr McCarthy.

He said that over the coming days, the residents’ association would be petitioning all residents in the three estates concerned – the other two being Manor Court and Garraí Dhónaill – for action to be taken on the laneway.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway designer’s necklace is fit for a princess!

Denise McNamara

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Kate Middleton wearing the necklace designed by Aisling O'Brien

From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A Galway jewellery designer is the latest to experience the ‘Kate effect’ after fans tracked down the woman who created a necklace for the Duchess of Cambridge which she has worn several times since it was gifted to her during her trip to the city last March.

Aisling O’Brien’s website crashed on Wednesday night when orders poured in for the piece from around the world. The necklace costs €109 with initials, while the earrings retail for €49.

“I’d never sold more than two things outside of Ireland before. I only had three of Kate’s necklaces in stock – and now I have orders for at least 50. I’ll have to start recruiting some elves,” laughs Aisling, who only set up her website during lockdown.

The 14-carat gold necklace and earrings set was designed by Aisling specially for Kate after examining her style – “understated, elegant, simplicity” is how the Tuam native describes it.

She was contacted about the commission by physiotherapist Thérèse Tully, who wanted to give the future queen a gift as she was using her room to change at Árus Bóthar na Trá beside Pearse Stadium when the royal couple were meeting with GAA teams.

(Photo: Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton wearing the necklace)
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the full details, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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