Pimps and prostitutes are moving into the border counties of the Republic as a crackdown on the sex trade in the North comes into force, campaigners have warned.
There has been more than a 50pc rise in online sex trade activity in counties Donegal, Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim and Louth in recent weeks, according to a study by the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI).
Laws making it a crime for anyone to pay for sex came into force in Northern Ireland yesterday after it became the first region in the UK to back a ban late last year.
But Brian Killoran, chief executive of the ICI, said the border counties now face being used as a "safe haven" for sex traders in the absence of a similar ban by the Dublin government.
"The initial indications are that those who run prostitution have been feeling the heat of Northern Ireland's new laws and have been switching their operations to the south," he said.
The Immigrant Council of Ireland says profiles on escort agency websites linked to counties just over the border, have soared in the four weeks leading up to the new law.
In Louth, there were 25 escorts advertising their services at the end of May compared to 18 at the beginning of the month. Numbers were up from 14 to 24 in Donegal, from two to nine in Leitrim, and from 13 to 15 in Cavan.
Mr Killoran has urged the Gardai to monitor the increase in online sex trade activity.