TWO brothels in Limerick city which have been the subject of considerable media attention in recent weeks are no longer operating after the occupants were evicted by their landlords.
One of the premises which is located near the city centre and which is currently for sale is owned by a Cork businessman while the other flat, which is located above a legitimate business, is owned by a Limerick city businessman.
Until recently both premises were being rented by a group of Romanian nationals, who gardai believe are connected to the same criminal gang.
Most of the women are suspected of travelling to Limerick to work in the sex trade because of the large amounts of money they can earn - up to €1,000 a night.
The Limerick Leader has learned that up to 15 prostitutes were openly operating a brothel at one of the buildings and were brazenly “touting for business” by shouting at members of the public offering them sex as they walked past the premises.
The building and its occupants attracted considerable attention last month after parking signs in the Catherine Street area were changed to read “Red Light District”.
That prompted considerable controversy and debate and one of the prostitutes told RTÉ Radio that she had been living in the city for four years and that most of her clients were older men who are not married or separated.
In June, members of a religious group from east Limerick begun saying a decade of the rosary several nights a week outside the second premises to “pray for the women” who they suspected were engaged in prostitution there.
Garda sources have confirmed the prostitutes have left the two premises in recent days having been asked to do so by their respective landlords.
It is not known if they were aware of the illicit activities being conducted by their tenants before the recent publicity.
One legal source confirmed it is open to gardai to prosecute the owners of premises where brothels are being operated.
While the women have been evicted gardai suspect they are still engaged in prostitution in the city.
“They have gone back to advertising on the internet and on escort sites and they have moved elsewhere in the city,” said one source.
It is understood gardai have identified a number of apartment complexes which they believe are now being used by the women.
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, some of whom have now been evicted by their landlords, 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 for up to two years.