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Report on the Activities of MECPATHS (The Congregation)

May 15, 2017


In January 2017, Aisling Murray joined the MECPATHS campaign as Project Officer and now works with Ruth in the office in Clondalkin three mornings a week.


Aisling and Ruth have been visiting hotels in the Dublin area, and supporting the sisters of the MECPATHS team in other parts of the country. Two new Sisters have joined the campaign in the course of the last year. Our team of Sisters continue to visit hotels across the Republic of Ireland and share our powerpoint presentation and accompanying guide with hotel management and staff. The campaign is branching out from conducting presentations in hotels to also giving talks to students of tourism, hospitality, and related subjects in colleges around the country.

In December, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action Against Human Trafficking (GRETA) visited Dublin to hear from civil society groups and experts about how our government is doing in relation to human trafficking. Ruth went to the meeting to represent MECPATHS. The main concern of NGOs in this area at the moment is the many problems with Ireland’s process for formally identifying victims. Victims of trafficking who are not formally identified as such are denied the rights they are entitled to, and even when they are granted this proper recognition, the services are inadequate. For example, trafficking victims are housed alongside asylum seekers in Direct Provision, which is completely unsuitable. The GRETA report from this consultation process will be published this summer and will hopefully bring some further pressure to bear on our government to take action.

The Second National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking was launched at the end of 2016, after a delay of several years. MECPATHS has been invited to join the Working Group for its implementation. Though the terms of reference for this Working Group are as yet undecided, awareness-raising will be a major aspect of its work and this is the area in which MECPATHS can help to influence and shape the delivery of the National Action Plan.

MECPATHS has been granted funds to develop a badly needed website, which will be built in the coming months. We have also been developing other resources like flyers and handouts, and continue to make updates to our core resource, the power point presentation for hotel training.

The Sexual Offences Bill was passed in February after a long campaign (Turn Off the Red Light) conducted by over 70 organisations concerned with human rights. This new law criminalises the purchase of sex and tackles the demand for victims of trafficking in the sex trade, effectively enshrining the Nordic Model in Irish law. A review of the law will take place after three years to assess its impact. The members of the Turn Off the Red Light campaign now look to promoting the new law and working to ensure that the three year review will have a positive outcome.

We have recently begun an evaluation of the campaign, and this evaluation process will be developed and carried out in the coming months. In light of the new law, we may have to adjust the direction of the MECPATHS campaign and no longer only focus on the trafficking of children. We are also in the process of commissioning a research project into the age of entry of women and girls in the Irish sex trade.

In March, Ruth and Mary were both heavily involved in the GIFT Box Project, which was a joint initiative of APT, the Loreto Sisters, and the Department of Justice. The GIFT (Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking) Box is a walk-in piece of public art designed to highlight the manipulative methods of traffickers who trick their victims with promises of great opportunities, only to ruthlessly exploit and abuse them once they have them under their control. The Box toured around the country for the month of March, visiting town centres, shopping centres, and college campuses, and generated a lot of local media coverage and conversations with passers-by.