Human trafficking becoming ‘more prevalent’ in Ireland, says Depaul chief

Charity providing accommodation and support for specialist service for women who are trafficking victims

Most homeless charities believe they are encountering victims of human trafficking through their work, new research suggests.

On Monday, homelessness charity Depaul, in conjunction with UK-based charity The Passage, published a report entitled An Overview of Homelessness and Human Trafficking in Dublin.

According to the report, mapping, evaluation and research findings show there are and have been victims of human trafficking living in homeless accommodation services across Dublin, echoing the current situation in London.

The report found most homelessness organisations believe they are coming into contact with victims of trafficking but recognise they have insufficient knowledge and awareness to identify victims.


The research identified that there are many missed opportunities to identify victims and provide them with the support to which they are entitled, as a human right and as included in the EU directive on human trafficking.

Depaul chief executive David Carroll said human trafficking is becoming “more prevalent” in Ireland, and the research “highlights the need to not only to identify victims to be able to link these victims into crucial support services. This report signals an initial response to links between human trafficking and homelessness in Ireland and highlights that we can do more to support these individuals. Every gender and every nationality can be a victim of this destructive crime. No community is immune to it.

“We need an ecosystem that is robust enough to support victims of trafficking which we don’t have at present. Pre-assessment is necessary and post-support is urgently needed. Much of the discussions to date focused on trafficking in the context of foreign nationals, and it is therefore not clear whether homelessness organisations are coming into contact with Irish nationals or people with residence in Ireland who have been trafficked.”

Depaul is providing accommodation and support for a specialist service in Ireland for women who are victims of trafficking.

“If people continue in this cycle, they will not have the opportunity to overcome this trauma and will remain a victim in the system, rather than a survivor. There will also be a need for homelessness organisations to make the changes and to participate fully in the national action plan,” said Mr Carroll.

Last November, the Government launched an anti-trafficking action plan, after official statistics from gardaí showed they formally identified 42 victims of human trafficking in Ireland in 2022.

However, a report from Mary Immaculate College in Co Limerick has suggested that the true figure of those trafficked into Ireland may be up to 38 per cent higher than previously thought.

Dr Nusha Yonkova, head of anti-human trafficking at the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC), said “nearly all victims of trafficking are homeless migrants”.

“Safe gender-specific accommodation is the starting point for recovery. IHREC welcomes the pilot shelter led by Depaul and commends all involved. More of this type of shelters will be needed to ensure no victim of trafficking is left in the clutches of traffickers,” she added.

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times