A major multi-agency investigation into slave labour is under way in Co Donegal.
Gardaí have raided three premises in the county as part of an investigation into people trafficking.
A total of six people have now been moved to a ‘safe house’ outside of Donegal by gardaí and the HSE.
The men are aged in their 20s and 50s and are understood to be from Romania.
A number of commercial premises in Letterkenny were raided by detectives as part of the investigation, described as one of the most intense of its kind in the county. Inspector Pat O’Donnell said the men were delighted to see gardaí when they raided the premises and he described the men’s situation as “a modern form of slavery”.
Insp O’Donnell said the investigation centred around issues including the amount the men were being paid, the food they were given, and the conditions in which they were being kept.
He said that in 30 years’ service in An Garda Síochána, this was the first time he had come across such a situation, and he was confident arrests will be made.
“This is a very serious crime in relation to human trafficking. It is a form of modern slavery. We expect to make arrests and are liaising with other agencies. Going forward, I would expect that people responsible will be arrested,” he said.
Sources stressed the investigation was at a “very sensitive stage” but they were expecting significant developments within the next fortnight.
Statistics and reports on human trafficking in Ireland are inconsistent due to the nature of the crime. One set of crime figures last year showed 17 alleged victims between January and June, compared to 44 for all of 2013, while there was just one reported case of a trafficked child, compared to 16 for the previous year.
Separately, Ruhama reported last year that it had worked with 83 women in 2013 who had been trafficked to Ireland at some point.
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