There are a number of undercover and surveillance operations being carried out by gardai in relation to two suspected brothels and organised prostitution taking place in the city.
Mayor Pádraig Conneely brought up the issue of two brothels operating in the city at Monday’s meeting of the Galway City Joint Policing Committee, describing one as being located “in the shadow of a church and the other in a leafy suburb”. The mayor, who is also the chair of the JPC, queried if any investigation or arrests has been carried out before adding he had a look at one of them “from the outside”, saw a bit of activity but “didn’t go in”.
It is understood that the brothels are located close to St Augustine’s Church and in The Crescent area of the city. In response to the mayor’s query, chief superintendent for the Galway Garda Division Tom Curley said that the investigation of brothel keeping and soliciting is on-going in the city. “We do have issues with regards this trade. We have operations in place and a number of people specialising in undercover work. We have to gather the facts,” said Chief Supt Curley, who added that gardai will act on the information that the general public provides.
Congratulating the mayor for raising such a serious issue, Senator Trever Ó Clochartaigh noted that the increase in austerity has resulted in more people being forced into criminal activity, and that there is a worrying increase in violence which is something of concern to the national Rape Crisis Network. He noted that the difficulty for gardai is that people are not coming forward, that many people in brothels may be there under duress or are trafficked, and the court system is weighed against the victim in this area. He called on the committee to invite agencies such as the Rape Crisis centre and the Domestic Violence Centre to give a presentation on the subject.
Chief Supt Curley replied that Galway gardai often liaise with the Rape Crisis Centre and other groups like Suicide Awareness. “We work with outside agencies on an on-going basis. We take prostitution very seriously,” he said, before explaining that brothel keeping and soliciting increases during certain times of the year, when popular summer events and festivals take place, and that gardai are constantly monitoring the situation and gathering evidence.