The shocking discovery of 39 bodies in a lorry in Essex, in the south-east of England, is a salutary reminder of the dangers of all forms of human trafficking and recalls a similar tragedy in 2000 when the bodies of 58 young Chinese people were found in a container at Dover.
Seven men were jailed by a Dutch court for their role in the human-smuggling operation that led to the young people suffocating. We have not been visited with such horrors in Ireland but this latest incident should serve as a wake-up call to the Irish authorities to increase our vigilance at ports.
The truck was first thought to have entered Britain at Holyhead, via Dublin but British police now say it arrived from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. Nonetheless, security and checks have been increased at the ports of Dover and Calais in recent months because of the influx of migrants and the perception is that Irish ports are easier options for people smugglers than those in Britain.
Only last month, Ilia Diasimidze, the leader of a smuggling gang based in Georgia, was jailed in Britain for attempting to smuggle dozens of people, including family members, to the UK via the Dublin-Holyhead ferry.
The fact that the lorry in which those 39 people died did not go through Ireland does not alter the fact that we need to step up checks against people smuggling, a modern day scourge that causes unimaginable horror and heartache.