Buying sex should be a criminal act: Archbishop
The newly-installed Catholic Archbishop of Cashel & Emly has called on the Government to quickly introduce legislation in line with Northern Ireland's law criminalising the purchase of sex.
Speaking to the Irish Independent after he was formally installed in the Cathedral of the Assumption in Thurles, Co Tipperary, yesterday, Archbishop Kieran O'Reilly said he was concerned about the possible influx of sex buyers from the North when the law comes into force there in June.
Archbishop O'Reilly said: "If the government of Northern Ireland have now enacted this - why are we waiting? That is the question I ask - why are we waiting?"
He said he was calling on "all levels of society - government and civilians - to do everything they possibly can to block this awful trade in human suffering".
Referring to his time as Bishop of Killaloe, Archbishop O'Reilly said he was aware that sex trafficking "wasn't just on the east coast; people were trafficked from town to town all up the west coast as well".
In his homily yesterday, the 62-year-old former missionary invited the people of his new diocese "to stay alert to this reality and work in our local communities to eradicate it". He told them that there are 21 million people who are enslaved through global trafficking.
"More people are enslaved through trafficking today than during 400 years of transatlantic slave trading," he said.
The congregation included the Fine Gael Minister for State Tom Hayes, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, and Fianna Fáil party member Mary Hanafin as well as sporting and civic representatives.
Referring to his time as a missionary in Liberia and Nigeria, Archbishop O'Reilly admitted: "I too have seen young people treated as slaves in the houses of wealthy people when I worked on mission and the sadness in their eyes haunts me to this day - could I have done or said something that might have changed the quality of their lives?"
The ceremony was attended by the papal nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, as well as 13 members of the Irish hierarchy.
Archbishop O'Reilly's last year in office in Killaloe was overshadowed by a row over his attempt to introduce the permanent diaconate, an ordained ministry for lay men, which was eventually shelved.
In his words of welcome to his successor, Archbishop Dermot Clifford recalled his 28 years at the helm.
He said his motto in retirement would be: "Ever ready, but never in the way."