Trafficking of children 'is a reality'
A LEADING children's charity has called on health service bosses to recognise the "reality" of child trafficking in Ireland.
Concerns were raised after figures showed more than 500 unaccompanied children seeking asylum vanished while in the care of the State over the past 10 years.
The Health Services Executive (HSE) said it was a "complex" issue. A spokeswoman pointed to increased co-operation between parties as it has been agreed that "collaborative interviewing" will take place at ports between social workers and gardai.
Young persons presenting as underage at ports will also be fingerprinted for tracking purposes. The HSE is also working to phase out the use of hostels for housing unaccompanied children.
The Children's Rights Alliance says a number of children who have went missing in HSE care have later been found in situations where they were being exploited by traffickers. "Separated children in the care of the HSE are at high risk of being exploited by traffickers," chief executive Jillian van Turnhout said.