Hospitality Award for MECPATHS


LuxLife Global Hospitality Awards

MECPATHS: Social Innovation Award 2021

MECPATHS are pleased to receive The 2021 LuxLife Hospitality Award for Social Innovation. With The Hospitality Industry remaining at the core, and in the foundation, of the work, this recognition of added-value and innovation comes following a challenging 18 months of restricted working and revised work practices for all. The project work has continued throughout the period of change and has evolved to meet the challenges and needs of an already challenged industry and a world of Human Trafficking which remained undeterred by pandemics, restrictions and lockdowns.

“After a significantly tough year for the industry, it brings me great pleasure to announce the return of the 6th annual Hospitality Awards!

No event has impacted the The Hospitality industry like the Coronavirus, which has had a significant effect on all businesses and individuals from all across the globe. LUXlife aims to support and reward those key individuals who have gone above and beyond for their customers and clients, even in such unprecedented times.

These awards are committed to recognising everyone across the hospitality space and allow us to provide our readers with a true representation of the very best that this industry, which is crucial for the well-being of clients around the world, offers.

As with all LUXlife Awards, the Hospitality Awards 2021 are based on merit, not the number of votes received. Our process works to ensure that we reward parties based on their excellence in the industry, the quality of their products and their dedication to service. To move successfully from nominee to winner, there must be evidence of extensive expertise and skills, dedication to customer service and client satisfaction with an ongoing commitment to excellence and innovation”. (Steven Simpson, LuxLife Awards Manager) 

E-Learning Launch


To coincide with World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on Friday, 30th July, MECPATHS is pleased to officially launch an online e-learning platform which aims to educate a range of industries on how to identify and report suspicions of human trafficking, particularly child trafficking, in their sector.

Established in 2013, MECPATHS is the only non-profit organisation in the Republic of Ireland which raises awareness of the presence of child trafficking activity in Ireland, specifically educating and advocating for the protection of children from trafficking for exploitation through identification and reporting.
As the only non-profit in Ireland which works in partnership with the Hospitality Industry and Services Sectors to prevent Child Trafficking, through their new interactive online learning platform, MECPATHS will enhance existing protective measures. Working in direct partnership with, and providing training to Hotel Groups and Hospitality providers; industry bodies such as the Private Security Authority, airline staff and frontline professionals; as well as Hospitality Training Colleges, Universities, and private industries, MECPATHS is now in a position to provide remote learning which will raise further awareness and help to protect children from exploitation.
Speaking at the launch of MECPATHS’ e-learning platform, Ann Mara, Education Manager, MECPATHS said “It is critical that people are aware that the illegal activity of child trafficking for exploitation is happening in Ireland; and that specific industries are the most likely to bear witness to it. For example, Hospitality Industry staff are amongst those most likely to encounter a victim of child trafficking as traffickers can take advantage of the privacy and anonymity that hotels and accommodation providers offer. Our new e-learning platform will educate people on what child trafficking is, the identifiable signs that may indicate a child is or has been trafficked, and the mechanisms available to report a concern or case of child trafficking.”
In 2021, The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) advised that “Ireland is not screening for victims of Child Trafficking”; and Ireland is one of just two European countries which has been named on a “tier two” watchlist, the third lowest of four rankings, by the annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, due to inadequate responses taken to tackle human trafficking.
Commenting on this, JP O’Sullivan, Network and Communication Manager, MECPATHS said “In the Irish context, in 2020 38 people were identified as having been trafficked, 26 in trafficking for sexual exploitation and 12 for labour exploitation, yet no children were identified, at a time of heightened vulnerability for so many already vulnerable children. In 2019 however, 42 were identified, 9 of which were children. 2020 was the fourth consecutive year of decreasing victim identification and saw the fewest victims identified since 2013. These findings do not add up, and the prevalence of human trafficking in Ireland is likely much higher than the official statistics report. This necessitates the work of MECPATHS, which raises awareness that child trafficking does indeed exist here. Our message in relation to child trafficking is ‘Know it, see it, say it’, and our e-learning platform can help to educate people nationwide on how to do this”.
Since its foundation, MECPATHS has worked closely with the Hospitality Industry to deliver free-of-charge workshops on trafficking, to support hotels in their efforts to ensure the safeguarding and protection of all; and has proudly partnered with many leading hotel brands including PREM Group, Dalata, Trigon Hotel Group and The Gleneagle Hotel Group, along with a wide-range of independent and family-owned hotels.
Speaking at the launch of the e-learning platform, Sarah Marr, Group Human Resources Manager, PREM Group, Ireland and UK said “The more awareness there is of this social problem, the more progress can be made in dismantling this multi-billion criminal industry. Through remote learning, all our team members in Ireland will continue to be educated on the signs that could be an indication of child trafficking taking place and, most importantly, they will know how to report their suspicions.”
MECPATHS invites companies to get in touch at if they would like to learn more about the free-of-charge e-learning workshops. If you have any concerns relating to child trafficking, or would like to find out more, visit
For further information contact:
Alison O’Brien; Alison O’Brien PR; 086 6023488;

Evoke: Ann Mara’s mission


After travelling the world, spending time in America, Kenya and South Africa, Irish woman Ann Mara returned to Ireland in 2016, where she began to work with MECPATHS (Mercy Efforts for Child Protection Against Trafficking with the Hospitality and Services Sector). This organisation is the only non-profit in the Republic of Ireland that raises awareness of the presence of human trafficking activity in the country which is more prolific than many people know.

It works specifically in the area of trafficking of children for exploitation, teaching people how to identify and report it. During her time with the organisation, Ann has seen some harrowing cases, from physical abuse to forced labour and sexual abuse of young children.

Ann tells EVOKE human trafficking has been a growing issue on our shores. ‘Human trafficking, which includes child trafficking, is a human rights issue that is growing in prevalence across the globe, and Ireland is not immune to this crime,’ she explains.

You can read the full feature here

UCC Alumni Spotlight


JP O’Sullivan is the Networks and Communications Manager of MECPATHS (Mercy Efforts for Child Protection against Trafficking with the Hospitality and Services Sectors), the only non-profit in the Republic of Ireland which aims to prevent the trafficking of children, and to enhance the protection of those who may be trafficked through identification and reporting. He joined MECPATHS in 2017 with a qualified background in social work and experience of programme design, development and implementation in adult mental health services. He was responsible for the establishment of a community-based ‘back to work’ programme in North Cork which supported the return of young adults to their own communities and their restoration of positive mental health. He also spent eight years working in international development, with an early experience of working in India as a student social worker. In addition, JP works in consultancy for international non-profits and social enterprises.

Course/subjects studied in UCC and year of graduation?

I studied Social Science (2003-2006) at undergraduate level and a Masters in Social Work (2006-2008) through the School of Applied Social Studies.

What does your job entail?

My day-to-day work involves network extension and the collaborative delivery of education on human trafficking in Ireland, with a particular focus on child trafficking. I work across a variety of networks including hospitality, security, recruitment and child protection/safeguarding. The work allows for a lot of International network engagement and travel, when we can. The sharing of learning across countries is vital and is the cornerstone of the progressive strategic planning for our work. When we work with groups, it is great to see the transformation from the beginning with the common question asked: “Is human trafficking a thing in Ireland?” – to the end when feedback includes: “Yeah, I had an experience once where I saw x,y,z but didn’t know what it was. I knew there was something not right… now I know what it was.” Being able to measure impact so quickly is great.

Read the full feature here

Social Justice Innovation


MECPATHS are pleased to announce the receipt of a Corporate LiveWire Award for Social Justice Innovation & Excellence 2021. The award follows a challenging year for many whose ways of working were altered due to Covid-19. The team at MECPATHS recognise the important role collaboration plays throughout the pandemic to ensure the work of the project continues and expands. With an increased extension of the project work, the close collaborations with The Gardaí and The Department of Justice remain key to the projects success.

The Corporate LiveWire Awards represent the pinnacle of business achievement, championing the best in their respective fields, the awards cover the most important sectors of business, from Finance advisories, Funding providers to Law firms and specialist advisory companies that deal with mergers and acquisitions. The culmination of the awards is the Global Award, covering businesses of every type that have proven their excellence throughout the year and years past.

Award for MECPATHS


We are delighted to announce that following the nomination of MECPATHS for a European Enterprise Award in Autumn 2020, we received notification that MECPATHS has been successful in its category, Social Justice Enterprise of the Year 2021 (Human Trafficking).

The award notification comes at a time when Ireland becomes more active in its efforts to counter the exploitation of children with the ratification of The Lanzarote Convention secured and the introduction of The Criminal Justice (Exploitation of Children in the Commission of Offences) Bill which makes it a criminal offence for an adult to compel or coerce, or induce or invite, a child to engage in criminal activity.

The new measures were introduced in the wake of the Greentown findings, a four-year project by researchers in University of Limerick published in 2017. It concluded that criminal gangs were recruiting and exploiting children as young as 11 years by using drugs, alcohol and the notion of status.

MECPATHS remains appreciative of all those who make up our network of supporters and to those who commit to bringing about increased safety measures and protections for all children.



Do Disturb: Radio Documentary


MECPATHS was delighted to be invited to collaborate with documentary producer Patricia Baker on a Human Trafficking in Ireland radio feature. Do Disturb has now been completed and its launch is timely, with the recent launch of The US State Departments Annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

The documentary, Do Disturb, features Sr. Mary Ryan, Ann Mara, JP O’ Sullivan, PREM Group HR Manager Sara Marr, Kevin Hyland O.B.E. and Hazel Larkin. It awakens conversations on Human Trafficking in Ireland and sets the national context within a global phenomenon. With thanks to Patricia for her skills, guidance, patience and professionalism.

To listen to the documentary and find more of Patricia’s work, please click here

Human Trafficking amidst Covid-19: Webinar


MECPATHS were very pleased to co-host a Webinar on Human Trafficking in partnership with Cork Against Human Trafficking and The Cork Sexual Violence Centre on May 7th 2020.

The theme of the Webinar was ‘Human Trafficking amidst Covid-19’. Representatives from 26 countries joined in their hundreds as a panel of International speakers addressed the challenges faced in their home countries. MECPATHS was represented by Ann and JP and the theme of collaboration, which MECPATHS champions, was clear throughout the Webinar.

An opening address by Mary Crilly founder of Cork Against Human Trafficking (CAHT) outlined the reason for bringing people together on this occasion and was an encouraging beginning of proceedings. JP spoke about the work of MECPATHS, some of the challenges faced in Ireland in relation to The National Referral Mechanism and particularly the challenges faced in relation to Child Trafficking and responsiveness.

Kevin Hyland, former First Anti-Slavery Commissioner in The UK & currently Ireland’s representative to The Council of Europe’s GRETA (Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings), addressed key challenges facing the world today, how far-spread Human Trafficking & Modern Day Slavery are and his own vast experience of working to counter Human Rights’ abuses.

Lori Cohen, CEO of ECPAT USA, addressed their work in present times and the innovative ways in which they are now working to keep children safe. Lori outlined her organisations particular efforts in relation to online-safety and the range of materials now available from ECPAT to support parents/guardians in their efforts to protect children.

Garry Smith, CEO of The Medaille Trust, spoke about the work his organisation is currently undertaking as the largest supplier of Safe-Housing in The UK. An inside view of the reality of lockdown was presented and the vast efforts of The Medaille Trust to maintain a normality for those availing of their services amidst Covid-19.

Dr. Siobhan Mullally, Established Professor of Human Rights Law and Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, address the issue of Human Trafficking from a European perspective with a very strong and clear outline of the impact of current legal structures on the safety of children and how laws impact on their lives as victims.

Mary Crilly closed the Webinar with an impactful reminder that everyone can do something to counter Human Trafficking and encouraged everyone to keep the conversation going. You can help to keep the conversation going by sharing the video link to the Webinar recording.


Webinar Recording May 2020


Child Abuse, Trafficking Risks Are Spiking Amid Coronavirus


by Hugo Millar

The risk of children around the world being abused and trafficked is growing as more countries, particularly poor ones, impose lockdown measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Limits on movement mean children are more at risk of abuse at home and online, according to separate reports from United Nations and European agencies.

With kids suddenly spending a lot more time online, “sexual offenders are taking advantage of this situation and more children are likely to be groomed online and become victims of sexual extorsion,” the Council of Europe’s George Nikolaidis and Christel De Craim said in a statement.

As governments focus on curing those infected with coronavirus and maintaining law and order, much less attention is paid to the mental and physical well-being of kids. With the number of medical cases appearing to be peaking in places like Italy and Spain, psychologists and other child-care experts want more focus paid on vulnerable children.

Governments should ensure that 24-hour toll-free hotlines, texting services and mobile shelters are fully staffed to ensure kids can report abuse or flee an abusive home, U.N. rapporteur Maud de Boer-Buquicchio said in a report. The risks are even greater in psychiatric and social care institutions, orphanages, refugee camps, immigration detention centers and other closed facilities, where abuse is likely to go undetected, she said.

“As community ties are weakened due to the crisis, we must all remain alert and report any suspected child abuse,” said De Boer-Buquicchio. “We can make sure that children’s dignity and rights are protected and that no child bears the collateral consequences of this unprecedented pandemic.”

View the original article here