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    MECPATHS hosts RoundTable with Maria Walsh, MEP

    MECPATHS were please to co-host a panel discussion at The European Parliamentary Offices, Dublin, on December 8th in partnership with Maria Walsh, M.E.P. with the theme ‘The EU Anti-Trafficking Directive and its impact for victims of Child Criminal Exploitation in Ireland’.

    The panel of experts comprised of Dr. Nusha Yonkova (IHREC), Dr. Jane Mulcahy (University of Limerick), Nuala Ward (The Ombudsman for Children’s office) and Paula Kearney (ICON, Dublin). 

    The event was opened by a Welcome from Minister of Justice, Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands, Heather Humphreys, TD, followed by a note of best wishes from Minister Helen McEntee and an offer of her extended support in 2023.  

    The thematic discussion explored research conducted by Dr. Mulcahy and her team at The University of Limerick, evaluating the extent of the criminal exploitation of children in Ireland, advising that up to 1,000 children are currently engaged in this form of exploitation here. 

    Dr. Yonkova re-iterated the commitment of The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to address the issue of Child Trafficking and the shortcomings of government in relation to this area. Dr. Yonkova acknowledged the important role MECPATHS has had in tabling the issue and for advocating on behalf of child trafficking victims. 

    Nuala Ward addressed the work of The Ombudsman’s office in relation to extending and elevating supports for vulnerable children and committed to working closely with MECPATHS and other agencies in attendance to respond more robustly to the experiences encountered within vulnerable communities. 

    Paula Kearney spoke from her experience of working in frontline service provision in Dublin’s North Inner City and the extent of exploitation she and her colleagues encounter, the networks of exploitation and the vulnerable children they work to support. 

    The panel members were each resolute in their acknowledgement that the extent of criminal exploitation of children in Ireland is under-reported, under-resourced and under-explored. MECPATHS has committed to using the meeting as leverage for a strengthened, collaborative response to the issue and to ensuring silos of operation are broken down and a more multi-disciplinary response is formulated. 

    Attendees at the Round Table included Tusla, The Immigrant Council of Ireland, The Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, The US Embassy, APT, The European Parliament, Archways, The Royal College of Surgeons and representatives from The Oireachtas. 

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