Two women working in the sex trade in Ireland have said that TDs "don't understand how prostitution works now".
The 29-year-old Romanian and an American citizen in her early 30s made the comments after giving testimony before a Dail committee for two hours last week.
"They do not really understand how prostitution works now. We explained that many sex workers come over to make some money and then move on. It is not like the majority don't want to go on to do other things" said Rachel, originally from Romania, after the hearing.
"They heard from so many organisations against prostitution, perhaps because this is such a religious country. I hope more escorts contact the media and explain how this works and why so many girls come to Ireland. This business is not like it was 10 years ago when there were six or 10 hookers working in a brothel with a pimp. Nowadays it is much more different and there is not the coercion. You can be yourself, get a flat, mobile phone and SIM cards.
"We told them that we don't want to have the law that would make our clients criminals. They are our clients; they are our income."
She said the 'Sweden' model being proposed by a group of feminist, religious and other groups – 15 of which were heard at the committee's sessions – had driven prostitutes back on to the streets and had made their lives more dangerous.
"Miss Smith", the other woman who gave evidence on Wednesday, is from California and charges her clients "donations" of up to €1,500 for an "overnight" at a hotel. "It seemed to me they were relying on outdated information. They certainly did seem ill-informed," she said.
Another woman in the trade, who has a post-graduate qualification from Oxford University and who speaks four languages, said she had been denied a chance to speak directly to the committee.
Meanwhile, the head of the Irish Countrywomen's Association (ICA) has hit out at the firm which operates the prostitution website Escorts Ireland.
London-based E Designers, which runs the website, last week issued a statement criticising last year's RTE's Prime Time Investigates programme 'Profiting from Prostitution', saying it was not balanced. It is to send a complaint to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
Yesterday, the president of the ICA, Liz Wall, said E Designers was using a loophole in the law, operating in the UK in order not to be prosecuted for promoting prostitution.
The ICA is one of a group of organisations campaigning to have new laws making it a criminal offence for men to pay women for sex.