Sligo seen as likely location for human trafficking

AWARENESS: Anti-human trafficking workers Victoria Stanek and Mary McSharry at the new premises for Invisible Traffick in Riverside. Picture by Alan Finn

It is the first of its kind to be opened in the south of Ireland and is run by Mary McSharry.

This week, the Sligo Weekender spoke with Mary and her colleague Victoria Stanek who is working primarily in Northern Ireland with Invisible Traffick in the battle against human trafficking.

Sligo’s proximity to the border and the fact that it is a coastal town makes it a desirable location for trafficking.

A case is currently in the process of going through the courts in relation to an alleged incident of human trafficking in Sligo town.

“The north west and Ireland is a place which needs to be watched. There is no doubt about that. I had heard about human trafficking in Ireland a number of years ago and at the time I remember thinking that it was something which you would hear of in the Third World and you would not associate with here but it is something that we have to be mindful of,” Mary said.

The charity that Mary has set up aims to create awareness, show people the signs to look out for and also to act as a support to victims of trafficking.

“Sligo is the first base for something like this south of the border. There is a lot of education and awareness being put forward in the north but not as much here,” Mary commented.

Primarily those who are trafficked are young girls who are being exploited through prostitution but more and more, vulnerable men are also being targeted and sent into labour camps.

“Labour trafficking is just as high. There are all types of trafficking such as domestic servitude, forced begging and even organ trafficking going on. I think people hear about sex trafficking or prostitution and don’t humanise it but it is someone’s daughter or sister.

Ireland, because we have opened our borders to refugees, has so many vulnerable people coming in,” Mary said.

For the full story, see this week’s Sligo Weekender newspaper – in shops now.

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