Sunday 19 November 2017

Sex pests are preying on young girls in red light hub

LARISSA NOLAN CHILDREN are being approached by kerb-crawlers at one of Ireland's most notorious red-light districts.

Girls as young as 13 have been offered money for sex at the well-known prostitution hotspot of Benburb Street, in Dublin's north inner city.

Local Fine Gael election candidate Valerie Ni Fhaolain says that those living in the area have made unsuccessful attempts to get authorities to do something about the problem. They fear it may take a major incident such as a child abduction, rape or murder before the authorities make a real effort to tackle the issue.

They want to "name and shame" kerb-crawlers in an effort to embarrass them into staying out of Benburb Street.

"The situation is completely out of hand, there is a very real threat of danger," said Ms Ni Fhaolain.

"Any woman who walks down the street will be approached by a kerb-crawler. It's very unnerving when a car slows down beside you and the driver stops to ask if you are working. Local children as young as 13 or 14 are also being stopped and it must be terrifying for them."

Prostitution has been synonymous with the Benburb Street area of Dublin for decades, but it has only become a serious problem since it developed into a highly residential zone.

Now there are a great many families living in the houses and apartments on Benburb Street and the adjoining Arbour Hill and Montpellier Hill area, which has a population of about 7,000.

About 80 prostitutes work the Benburb Street area, most of whom are of Irish junkies who need money to feed their drug addictions.

On any given night, about a dozen prostitutes will be walking the streets. According to Ms Ni Fhaolain, they can be quite aggressive to those who live on their patch.

"They have sex in people's gardens and in trucks on the street and leave used condoms and broken syringes all over the place.

"There is one particular lane between two blocks of flats and the girls go there to have sex with their customers. Residents of the flats can see everything and often shout out at them to clear off, but they don't care."

The FG hopeful said that gardai take too long to respond when called to the scene. "By the time the gardai arrived the girls have moved on or picked up a customer," she said. "When it comes to the gardai and Dublin City Council, it is as if they are both turning a blind eye to the situation. Benburb Street is regarded as a red-light district and that's the way it is. But prostitution is illegal here, just as it is anywhere else in the country."

Residents of the Benburb Street/Arbour Hill/Montpelier Hill area met with gardai and council officials last Monday to discuss a way to tackle the problem.

The group of about 40 residents suggested that better lighting, CCTV cameras and road ramps could deter activity and the three groups are to meet again next month to see what can be done. They suggested that prosecuting the kerb-crawler rather than the prostitute could be a moreeffective strategy.

"The girls don't care about going to jail; most of them are out of their heads on drugs anyway," said Ms Ni Fhaolain.

"We are looking into naming and shaming the men who are convicted of procuring a prostitute," she added.

"Maybe if they see their names in the local papers they would be less likely to try it again."

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