Historical Papers

Going through some historical papers this evening, on the Carrigan Committee and its 1930-31 report on “sexual immorality”, I stumbled across the following extracts written in 1931 about the report:

This report is a disappointing one.  The Committee took evidence from the Clergy and from representatives from various organisations engaged in social work but they heard very few other witnesses.  In particular, they did not obtain the views of either a Circuit or High Court Judge, a remarkable omission considering that they made recommendations for drastic changes in the methods of trying certain offences.

The Committee adopted the views of the organisations of social workers and their report may be termed extreme and in parts, fanatical.  It reads throughout like an opening speech by prosecuting counsel and must be taken with the same reserves.

Conclusion.

I began my remarks on the report of the Committee by saying that it is disappointing.  I may conclude by saying that it is practically without value.  The Committee were appointed to select from the proposals for the amendment of those laws which might be desirable.  They have chosen to adopt the position of amplifier.  They have sponsored recklessly any and every suggestion for the “strengthening” of the law and the creation of new offences without even the most cursory examination of the possible consequences.  Some of their statement resemble “the thirteenth stroke of a crazy clock, …. casting doubt on all its previous assertions”.

What is striking about these comments is that they could just as easily be made about the 2012-13 proceedings of the Justice Committee Review of Prostitution Legislation!

Atlantic Philanthropies

The Turn Off The Red Light (TORL) political campaign to ‘end prostitution and sex trafficking to Ireland’ is led by the Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), who are funded by Atlantic Philanthropies. ICI have received $5,903,868 from Atlantic Philanthropies so far.

13 other TORL organisation have also been funded by Atlantic Philanthropies:

AkiDwA $928,326.00
Barnardos $14,452,353.00
Children’s Rights Alliance $3,163,788.00
Dominican Justice Office $50,340.00
Doras Luimní $2,137,975.00
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre $177,965.00
Focus Ireland $290,850.00
FOMACS (Forum on Migration and Communications) $2,077,635.00
Immigrant Council of Ireland $5,903,868.00
Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre $1,934,789.00
National Women’s Council of Ireland $2,177,428.00
Rape Crisis Network Ireland $738,304.00
The Integration Centre $6,246,032.00
Women’s Aid $430,840.00

TORL organisations have received a whopping $40,710,493.00 from Atlantic Philanthropies in total.

Atlantic Philanthropies also funds the Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) which have provided TORL with extensive pro bono legal advice on further criminaising sex work, which TORL has in turn submitted to the Government.  FLAC have had $10,419,298.00 from Atlantic Philanthropies.

Ireland’s human rights organisations have fallen silent on the issue of further criminalisation of sex work.  The Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the Irish Human Rights Commission, both of which were previous very involved around the issues of sex work and sex trafficking, don’t seem to have anything to say now.  Amnesty International is also mute.  It turns out they are all funded by Atlantic Philanthropies also:

Amnesty International Ireland Foundation $5,105,170.00
Irish Council for Civil Liberties $11,557,393.00
Irish Human Rights Commission $1,100,120.00

Our human rights organisations have received a total of $17,762,683 between them from Atlantic Philanthropies.  (Amnesty International in Northern Ireland isn’t silent, they are actually one of  the strongest opponents of further criminalisation of sex work in Northern Ireland, but they are not funded by Atlantic Philanthropies.)

Other Irish NGOs funded by Atlantic Philanthropies also support TORL without being formal members of the TORL coalition.  For example Headstrong, a youth mental health charity.  Tony Bates, founding director of Headstrong, which received $1,509,350 from Atlantic Philanthropies in 2009, took it upon himself to pledge his public support to TORL in 2011, right before he got his next $1,313,700 from Atlantic Philanthropies in 2012.

Atlantic Philanthropies fund many organisations in Ireland.  However, strangely, they don’t fund a single organisation that helps sex workers, or provides legal advice to sex workers or supports sex workers in not being further criminalised.

TORL have a number of very simple messages mass promoted non-stop.  One is they say when a person buys sex they are not buying a service, they are actually buying the person selling sex, and it is wrong that people can be bought with money.

Lord Morrow’s consulting with us

During recent NI Assembly discussions on Lord Morrow’s Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Bill, the question as to whether he consulted sex workers has arisen. In the context of this it has been stated that he did consult with sex workers and “Sex Work IE” has specifically been mentioned in relation to this.

To clarify, SexWork.ie has had no contact with Lord Morrow.

Both Escort-Ireland.com and UglyMugs.ie responded to Lord Morrow’s consultation. Neither was contacted by Lord Morrow or received any acknowledgement of communications. It is presumed that the Escort-Ireland.com and UglyMugs.ie responses were recorded as “Sex Work IE” by Lord Morrow and this is what he is referring to.

Both Escort-Ireland.com and UglyMugs.ie oppose the criminalisation of the purchase of sex. Neither had any contact with Lord Morrow beyond sending communications to him that he did not reply to. In any event, neither represents the views of sex workers in Ireland, thereby making it unnecessary to actually consult with sex workers in Ireland.

Justine Reilly: Brothel Keeper

Research has shown that, these days, the vast majority of persons convicted of brothel keeping offences are sex workers working with another sex worker, not brothel keepers in any real sense. But this wasn’t always the way. In 1999 a Garda (police) operation began that targeted real brothel keepers, Operation Gladiator. The case of one of those convicted under this operation, Justine Reilly, is now of renewed interest as it has recently emerged that she is now posing as a ‘former sex worker’ and campaigning alongside Ruhama to have prostitution further criminalised.

It appears that Justine was a sex worker herself, prior to becoming a brothel keeper. Some people might question whether a brothel keeper is the sort of person who should be heard in the current debate about prostitution, but I do not, nor do I have any desire to condemn her over her previous conviction. My issue here is the falsehood, that she has been put forward by Ruhama and the media, with her identity disguised, under numerous different aliases, as a ‘former sex worker’, without any mention of her brothel keeping, and that she has told numerous lies and been allowed do so.

At one time Justine and her brothels were frequently in the tabloids, and there are some articles available about her online still. Paul Reynold’s 2003 book, Sex in the City, has a chapter on Justine, and from information in that I will briefly cover her story, for those interested now her current activities have come to light.

Reynolds says Justine got into prostitution for money, after having worked in low-paid jobs previously. After working for other brothel keepers for years, at 29 years old “she switched to brothel keeping having realised there was more money to be made selling other women’s bodies than selling her own.” She advertised in the In Dublin magazine as ‘Dublin Escorts’, ‘Body Harmonies’ and ‘Tropical Paradise’, plus on the Internet. She also advertised different women individually in the magazines Deviate and Consenting Adults.

In the beginning Justine’s prostitutes charged £60 for 30 minutes. Each woman would pay Justine £30 of the first £60 they made in a shift, and then £20 of every £60 they made thereafter. Later she put the prices up to £80 for 30 minutes (£30 for her) or £120 per hour (£50 for her). Known to the women working for her as ‘Jade’, she rented properties from unsuspecting landlords posing as a self-employed hairdresser called ‘Beth’.

Reynolds says Justine saw herself as a businesswoman and said she treated the women working for her well. She made a lot of money, dressed well and drove a brand new car. She hired a lot of women from the country, who were new to prostitution. She was unmarried and had no children, but many of the women working for her were working because they had children to provide for. She did not ever work as a prostitute herself in any of her brothels.

Tropical Paradise or ‘Club Tropical’ was her Northside of Dublin brothel and her Southside operation was ‘Body Harmonies’. The police raided Club Tropical on 16 Oct 1999, having had it under surveillance. When Justine rang half an hour later to check on things, she was told the brothel was being raided and the phone was handed to a detective. At first she said she’d come down, but then she hung up. When the detective called her back she said she’d sue him for harassment if he called again.

Justine’s Southside operation ‘Body Harmonies’ was then raided on 4 November 1999. Again the police had been doing surveillance, but this time they waited until Justine was on the premises before going in. Justine admitted running the brothel. But she denied the previously raided ‘Club Tropical’ had been hers. She wasn’t arrested. She was given another chance.

‘Club Tropical’ and ‘Body Harmonies’ both went back in business with new locations after the raids. The police raided again on 2 March 2000. Amongst the evidence found were pages of Internet reviews Justine had been writing, all positive, of her agencies. At first Justine tried to talk her way out of her predicament, but she was arrested this time. On way to station she admitted running the brothels, but then changed her mind and was uncooperative. She was released without charge, but re-arrested and charged on June 2000 on the direction of the public prosecution.

Her case was sent to the Circuit Criminal Court, where she pleaded guilty to four sample charges of brothel keeping and one of managing a brothel. On 4 March 2001 she was given a 12 month suspended sentence and fined a total of £11,500 in relation to three brothels.

Reynolds writes that what happened to all her money a mystery. The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) estimated she was making over £5,000 a week, an annual turnover of around £284,000 and further investigations into her finances were ongoing at the time of writing.

Prostitution: Isn’t it about time we stopped blaming the English?

Feeding Anglophobia is the Turn Off the Red Light (TORL) campaign’s latest social media strategy. Since February 9th, the TORL twitter feed has been regularly announcing that the only opposition to TORL is ‘English escort agencies’:

Clearly to summarise all opposition to TORL as ‘English escort agencies’ is quite ridiculous, but as with their on-going 29 children campaign, TORL are not going to let the truth get in the way of any possible means of whipping up support for bedroom policing.

Those who spoke against TORL at the Justice Committee hearings were academics and health workers, Dr Gillian Wylie, Dr Eilís Ward, Dr Kathryn McGarry, Dr Teresa Whitaker, Dr Derek Freedman, Michael Quinlan and Daniel McCartney. I expect you won’t find any of their phone numbers on ‘tart cards’ in London phone boxes.

A number of sex workers in Ireland are English. That could be what TORL are referring to. Most are independent sex workers, but of course TORL would dispute that.

The presence of English sex workers in Ireland is not, incidentally, new. There were many English sex workers in Ireland back in the days of the Monto. Likewise there has always been many Irish sex workers in England. Sex workers often prefer to work a little away from their home, for privacy, and this has long been the way.

Or perhaps TORL are referring to escort advertising companies. Such businesses are now invariably not based in Ireland. The reason for this is The Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, which criminalised advertising prostitution. Prior to this, most sex workers advertised in an Irish-owned publication, the In Dublin magazine.

Whatever they mean, TORL are also getting this latest tactic of trying to whip up Anglophobia straight out of the history books. Prostitution was highly politicised by Irish nationalists in the period between 1900 and 1922, who linked it with presence of the British in Ireland.

As Maria Luddy wrote in Prostitution and Irish Society 1800-1940, “Prostitution in early twentieth-century Ireland became bound up with the cause of Irish independence. The prostitute became a symbol of British oppression and the means by which the British soldier infected the Irish nation with physical disease and immorality.” Such was the self-belief in the moral superiority of the Irish people over the English, once independence was achieved, sexual immorality was expected to disappear. The Christian Brothers said in 1924 that “purity is the national virtue of Ireland.”

The notion that the Irish Free State would be immune from sexual problems, that these were ‘foreign vices’ associated with England, was of course incorrect, as the increases in illegitimacy and venereal disease soon showed. The Irish solution was then to hide its sexual immorality, put those ‘bad women’ away in Magdalene laundries and place children in industrial schools to prevent them sinning.

The idea of England being Ireland’s sexual corrupter long persisted and perhaps still does to some extent TORL are hoping. Maria Luddy says in her book that, when she first started giving talks on prostitution in Ireland in the late 1980s, after one talk in Limerick, two members of the audience approached her aggressively to ask her how she could talk of such a subject and thank God the British had gone as there had been no prostitution in Ireland since.

Sinn Féin’s Justice Spokesperson, TD Padraig MacLochlainn, may have been the first to swallow this Anglophobia TORL are trying to feed. Amongst the reasons he gave yesterday for announcing his support for TORL and intention to have Sinn Féin endorse TORL was the belief that sinister opposition was coming from overseas.

There were some great responses to Padraig MacLochlainn’s announcement yesterday by sex workers, You’ve gotta fight, for you’re right… and Padraig MacLochlainn makes political decision based on tweets, bullies public, and doesn’t deny pimp with 5 aliases gave evidence to Irish prostitution hearing.

In 1941 in The Bell magazine, a contributor on the subject of censorship suggested that “the average Irish mind has not, and perhaps never had, a properly balanced outlook on sex. Either it runs away from sex or it runs after it; it never seems to be able to stand and look at it objectively. Will it ever learn?”

The experience of sex workers in 2013, who want to be heard in this current debate on the future of prostitution legislation, is that you still can’t have a proper debate on the subject of prostitution.

This latest TORL anti-English propaganda campaign is just silly.

The anti-English TORL tweets are also racist, ironically, given that the TORL twitter account is managed by Sister Stan’s Immigrant Council of Ireland (ICI), an organisation which claims combating racism is one of its main aims.

Sinn Fein to support Turn Off The Red Light

Padraig MacLochlainn, Sinn Féin’s 26 County Spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Defence, announced via Twitter tonight that he supports the Turn Off the Red Light (TORL) campaign to further criminalise prostitution. He said he will be calling on Sinn Féin to endorse TORL at their April Ard Fhéis.

Earlier today, on Twitter, he had referred to this blog as very nasty and sinister and stated that he stood for TORL, but he deleted this tweet shortly after making it. However he came back onto Twitter tonight, and in case he deletes again, I’ll include some screenshots.

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The TORL campaign has been one big string of lies. Anyone who cared to open their eyes could see this, but the problem we have here is the vast majority of our politicians refuse to, preferring instead to cosy up to the Magdalene religious orders.

It’s seemed for some time that Padraig MacLochlainn has been a TORL supporter. His disinterest in hearing any other views has been clear. I’m glad he’s come out and admitted he is a TORL supporter. His pretending to be open minded was a pointless charade.

As for his comments directed at this blog, about the nasty, sinister, overseas, arrogant, aggressive tactics used in the last 24 hours , which he credits with having made up his mind on this issue, that’s the most ridiculous reason for supporting TORL I’ve ever heard!

The deciding factor for Padraig MacLochlainn, when deciding to further criminalise prostitution, driving it further underground and making the lives of all those who sell sex more dangerous, was a tweeter exchange he had one day re this blog? There was something in the media about a fake Gerry Adams Twitter account recently. Is this a fake Padraig MacLochlainn Twitter or is this actually for real?

Here is the offending post by the way. Apparently it was very nasty and sinister of me to point out that a woman who has posed as a former prostitute to go on numerous television programmes and give evidence to the Justice Committee supporting TORL is actually a well known convicted pimp, this only not having been apparent until now as she got the media to hide her identity.

The Irish political elite may be signed up to support the Magdalene Sisters to further inflict themselves onto Ireland’s sex workers, but I am not, and it is not nasty or sinister to expose the TORL frauds that are going on here.