New Ross Standard

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Respected local men are caught leaving prostitute's dwelling



Several local men who were caught leaving the dwelling of a prostitute in New Ross are anxiously awaiting a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions as to whether or not to prosecute them.

The men include highly respected, well-known members of the community.

The Operation Quest garda operation in April saw gardaí monitor prostitution in towns and villages across the country, including in Co Wexford. Supt John McDonald said: 'We did some operations here around our division which focused on clients of prostitutes. Our officers intercepted a number of local men and a report is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions to see if a prosecution will be proceeded with.'

It is understood the men were spoken to individually by detectives having left an apartment used by a prostitute to sell sex. Supt McDonald said some of the women may have been brought to Ireland on false pretences and ended up in the sex trade. The Days of Action police operation followed the enactment of a controversial 2017 law targeting the sex trade, Around 40 people nationally were caught in the sweep over the last weekend of April for allegedly paying for sex. The crackdown, which took place as part of Operation Quest, is aimed at raising awareness that purchasing sex is now illegal and gardaí are taking it seriously. The Garda force has faced criticism over the low number of prosecutions initiated since the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act came into force in 2017.

Since then just one person has been convicted of paying for sex; a 65-year-old Meath man who was fined €200 in January. It is believed there are a handful of other prosecutions before the courts.

In April detective units in six urban and rural districts (in Dublin, as well as Wexford, Louth and Kildare), co-ordinated by National Protective Services Bureau, began surveillance operations on known locations where sex workers operated. Detectives got the names and addresses of the men and interviewed them about the reason for their visit to the apartments.

A garda spokesperson said: 'This operation reinforces An Garda Síochána's commitment to target the demand for prostitution and to protect vulnerable persons, including victims of human trafficking involved in prostitution.'

The 2017 law criminalises the purchase of sex and doubles the penalties for running a brothel. Supporters argue it protects sex workers while reducing the demand for their services by targeting the customers. However critics say it makes the work more dangerous as it forces women to work alone or on the street for fear of being caught in a brothel, which is defined as two or more sex workers in one location.