Ireland: An abusive reality behind closed doors

Aoife Nic Ardghail and Declan Brennan

A UK resident who repeatedly travelled to Dublin to have sex with a teenage girl who he claimed he was in love with has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

The Central Criminal Court heard that then 25-year-old man and the 16-year-old became engaged at one point and he told gardaí he was in love with her. Mr Justice Paul Coffey said that it wasn’t love and said that the man was satisfying his sadistic urges by exploiting “a mere child”.

He met the girl online in mid-2016 and began travelling here to have sex with her. She was 15 when he first had sex with her and then continued to meet her for sex after she turned 16.

The pair met in hotel rooms and he recorded some of the sexual encounters on his phone. Mr Justice Coffey said the “clandestine nature” of the relationship between him and the victim indicated that he knew what he was doing was wrong. He said the defendant was controlling, possessive and manipulative.

To read the full media article, click here

Hotels responding to growing concerns

The front line for preventing human trafficking might not be at airports, international borders or in police raids. It might be at the hotel check-in desk.

An international hotel chain has completed a two-year project to train half a million staff with the aim of spotting potential victims of trafficking. Marriott’s workforce, in almost 7,000 hotels, have completed a process of mandatory training teaching them to look out for warning signs.”Hotels can, unfortunately, be unwilling venues for this unconscionable crime,” David Rodriguez, the hotel group’s chief global human resources officer, said.

To read the full media piece, click here

Ibec welcomes MECPATHS

MECPATHS delivered a workshop morning to the hospitality sector members of Ibec on January 24th. Attendees learned about Child Trafficking, globally, how to identify a victim of Human Trafficking and how to respond accordingly. The workshop was delivered by Ann Mara and JP O’ Sullivan and the discussion portion of the morning was extremely engaging. MECPATHS were joined by representatives from Dalata Group, IBIS, Accor and a number of independent hotels in Ireland along with representatives from the food and beverage industry. To book a MECPATHS workshop or to find out more about our work, please contact us directly

Ireland’s Ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

“The Children’s Rights Alliance welcomes the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD’s call for the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Protocol details important safeguarding measures for children and young people from offences including child trafficking, child abuse material (referred to in the Protocol as child pornography) and child prostitution”.

Read full release from The Children’s Rights Alliance here


“I Think We Have A Sex Trafficking Situation Going On”

A hoteliers experience of Sex Trafficking on their premises. These incidents take place, globally, daily. Knowing what to identify and how to respond is vitally important. Each of us has a role to play in keeping people safe and responding when things go wrong. Please contact us to learn what to look out for and how to help.

Shannon College of Hotel Management: MECPATHS announce Partnership

We are very proud to announce our partnership with Shannon College of Hotel Management. As a College of The National University of Ireland, Galway, Shannon continues to deliver professional, focused education to students from around the world at their College in Co. Clare. Founded in 1951, Shannon College has a history of intensive practical training, extensive business studies and international work placements and we are extremely pleased to have the opportunity to add value to their already well-rounded work.

“We are absolutely delighted to be a part of Ireland’s efforts to counter human trafficking through our recent collaboration with MECPATHS. Sex trafficking is an International crisis with many children among its victims. The hospitality sector is often used by traffickers to hide victims including children in temporary locations like hotels for the purpose of exploitation. We in the hospitality industry and related education sector therefore have a huge responsibility in raising awareness around this issue. Training our staff on what warning signs they can be looking out for and how we can all take steps to help counteract this growing worldwide problem. MECPATHS are currently doing some incredible work on this front and have been running very effective workshops with all our first year students here in Shannon over the past year. We have no hesitation in highly recommending this very professional and effective organisation and look forward to continuing our professional relationship with them over the coming years.” Shannon College of Hotel ManagementA College of NUI Galway, Shannon, Co. Clare.

MECPATHS, confirming the appreciation of the organisation for the opportunity to extend their educational outreach and for the opportunity to work alongside the future hotel and hospitality leaders of the future, have said “We look forward to growing our relationship and to supporting students to become more aware about their future roles in keeping children safe. Each person has a role to play, globally, and the students and staff of Shannon College of Hotel Management have been a great partner for us to work with. Their professional approach to all that they do is a pleasure to observe and their outlook on their own futures is extremely admirable. Thank you to all involved”.

Clare FM interview with MECPATHS

With thanks to Clare FM for hosting MECPATHS on their Morning Focus show to discuss our work with Shannon College of Hotel Management and the importance of speaking about Child Trafficking in Ireland.

To Listen to the podcast, please click here

Ireland: Poverty and social inequality leaves children at risk of sexual exploitation

A report issued by ECPAT International has outlined the challenges facing Ireland in 2018 which facilitate a growing risk of the sexual exploitation of children.

”Social inequality in Ireland is putting some children at greater risk of sexual exploitation – with Roma, migrant, refugee and Traveller communities more adversely affected. When income inequality remains high, children from vulnerable and marginalised groups are often denied fundamental human rights, such as access to housing, which exposes them to higher vulnerability and to different forms of violence, including sexual exploitation.” reads the report.

With Ireland continuing to fall behind in its national responsiveness to addressing Child Trafficking, ECPAT suggest “Overall, Ireland has a quite good legislative framework for the protection of children from sexual exploitation. However, the government could strengthen the legal structure even further. For example, by putting in place national complaint mechanisms that are sensitive to child victims, and taking measures that make it easier for victims to seek compensation.”

To access the full report, click hereECPAT International Report: Ireland

Kevin Hyland to succeed Professor Siobhán Mullally on European anti-trafficking committee

Kevin Hyland OBE has been elected as Ireland’s representative on the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) from next year.

Mr Hyland will succeed Professor Siobhán Mullally of UCC School of Law at the end of her second two-year term.

He was appointed as the UK’s first independent anti-slavery commissioner in November 2014 and received an OBE in 2015 for “services to combating human trafficking”.

Prior to this, he had a 30-year career as a police officer and was formerly head of the Metropolitan Police’s human trafficking unit.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said: “The election of Kevin Hyland to GRETA is a significant achievement and a tribute to his broad international expertise and experience in the area of human trafficking at national and international level.

“I am confident that he will make a substantial contribution to the important work of GRETA. I wish to extend my congratulations to Mr Hyland and wish him every success in this vital role.”

Every congratulations to Kevin from all at MECPATHS!

Original Article posted here

An International perspective on Ireland’s response to Human Trafficking

Over the past months, Ireland’s efforts to counter Human Trafficking have been placed under an International Spotlight. The US Department of State’s publication of The TIP (Trafficking in Persons) Report has highlighted the nations under-preparedness for the international crisis of Trafficking. As a result of Ireland’s limited response, the country has been downgraded to ‘Tier 2’ in the Departments Indicator scale.

“The Government of Ireland does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however it is making significant efforts to do so. The government made significant efforts to meet the minimum standards during the reporting period by collaborating in international investigations and increasing funding for victim services. However, these efforts were not serious and sustained compared to the efforts during the previous reporting period. The government has not obtained a trafficking conviction since the law was amended in 2013; it initiated only three prosecutions in 2017, and had chronic deficiencies in victim identification and referral. Therefore Ireland was downgraded to Tier 2”.

To download a copy of The TIP Report, please click here

Furthermore, the publication of a Europol Report ‘Criminal Networks involved in the Trafficking and Exploitation of Underage Victims in The European Union’, highlights the growing nature of Trafficking within Ireland and directly requests the Irish Government to respond to this International Crime. Director of Europol, Catherine De Bolle, confirms that vulnerable children are being identified and victimise by criminals who want to exploit them. Ireland is highlighted as a destination country for victims of Trafficking:

“Vulnerable boys and girls between the age of two and 17 years old are targeted by traffickers for different purposes, to be sexually abused in prostitution, pickpocket or steal from shops.. Only if all competent authorities work closely together can we effectively protect these minors, as exploited children in vulnerable situations deserve to be. Children do not decide for themselves, traffickers very often directly engage their families in the recruitment process or even just target orphans.”

As Ireland’s National response remains under-resourced, we continue to reach out to the hospitality sector in Ireland to engage with MECPATHS and help to raise awareness and grow staff-capacity. Each person can make a difference. To request further information on our work, please email us