In his Christmas homily Archbishop Eamon Martin made timely reference to the scourge of human trafficking for which Ireland now appears to be a significant route.
“Human trafficking and other forms of exploitation remind us that evil continues to profit from the misfortune and misery of our fellow human beings” said the archbishop.
In those “other forms of exploitation” the archbishop might have placed the thoroughly wretched bedfellow of human trafficking the import and export of illegal drugs in which Ireland is also a principal player.
The hard-pressed An Garda Síochána know that much more needs to be done about trafficking and must suspect as we all do that native drugs racketeering is out of control. With the uncertainty increasing on cross-border co-operation following Brexit it is reasonable to expect an increase in criminal activity in the next two to three years.
Not all unauthorised migrants will be expecting to bob across the channel in an overloaded RIB under cover of darkness.
This summer a US State Department report pointed out that not a single conviction for human trafficking was secured in this country during the last five years and insufficient efforts were made to identify and provide assistance to victims.
The state department report recognised that while “significant efforts” had initially been made by the government to improve its response to human trafficking, enforcement efforts had not been “serious or sustained”.
The challenge is coming for Ireland and it will need the resources, and the will, to deal with it.