THE extent of the prostitution problem in Limerick was underlined this week when it was claimed that up to 15 women are working from one building in the city centre.
While on-street prostitution is not as prevalent as it was in the past, prostitutes are however openly â€œtouting for businessâ€ from a number of brothels in the city. It is suspected that more than a dozen women from Romania are living at one premises in the city centre, which has been identified by gardai as a brothel.
â€œThere are 14 or 15 of them living there. They have the entire building,â€ said one businessperson who lives near the building.
Garda sources have downplayed claims of sex trafficking as they suspect the majority of the women have voluntarily chosen to travel to Limerick to work in the sex trade due to the large amounts of money they can earn.
â€œThere is no indication that they have been trafficked or anything like that. They are sex workers,â€ said one source.
In a report broadcast on RTE Radio 1 this week, one prostitute said she had chosen to work as a prostitute in Limerick.
The Romanian national, who has been living in the city for four years, said most of her clients have been older men who are not married or separated.
She would not disclose how much money she is earning from prostitution.
While there has been a greater garda presence in the area where the brothel is located in recent weeks, she told reporter Brian Oâ€™Connell that she did not believe prostitution will be stopped.
â€œThis is normal. We are safe and clean and it is never going to stop. All over the world nobody has stopped this business and you never can do that,â€ she said.
In a new strategy, which came into effect on August 1, gardai have begun serving Antisocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) on women they suspect are loitering for the purposes of prosecution.
A number of Romanian women are currently before the courts for alleged breaches of such orders.
If they are convicted, they can be ordered by the court to stay away from specified areas of the city for up to two years.