A total of 37 arrests have been made since January 1 for prostitution and the operation of brothels in the city centre.
One businessman in Catherine Street, who asked not to be named said yesterday: “On any given night there can be anything up to 15 prostitutes looking for clients on the street outside our business. They usually come at around 8pm. It has got very bad in recent weeks. From what I am hearing most are Romanian girls.”
Gardaí Frank O’Brien of Henry Street confirmed the figures for the first eight months of the year.
He said in one cluster of streets most of the garda arrests have resulted from the operation of brothels, while in adjoining streets most of the arrests related to soliciting on the street.
Supt O’Brien said they have deployed additional resources and this has resulted in the high number of arrests and cases being brought before the courts.
Supt O’Brien said: “The level of prostitution in Limerick seems to be high and the women involved are mainly Eastern European and some come from Brazil. We would be very concerned at the human trafficking involved. We know a lot of young girls come from countries abroad with the promise of jobs. They are then put into a room and effectively expected to work as prostitutes.
“That is the real human tragedy of people being forced to stay here against their will who may have taken out loans to travel. The people bringing in the girls can also have a hold over their families in their home countries and these are serious issues, and we are dealing with our colleagues in other police forces to deal with it. It is a growing problem and we have deployed extra personnel and the figures this year so far bear this out with the number of arrests and prosecution.”
In the most recent case of alleged vice at Limerick District Court, two Romanian women aged 18 and 31 were remanded on bail charged with directing and controlling the activities of a number of prostitutes in the city centre, for financial gain.
It was alleged the offences occurred in Harstonge Street, Pery Square, Catherine Street and Catherine Place.
The women with addresses in Dooradoyle and Patrickswell were given bail on condition they surrendered their passports and stay away from the city centre streets where the offences are alleged to have occurred.
They were also ordered not to associate with known prostitutes or with each other.
They are due in court again on October 1.