Vulnerable people are being trafficked into Cork and forced to beg.

Vulnerable people are being trafficked into Cork and forced to beg.

BREXIT may be to blame for an increase in organised begging on the streets of Cork, a leading immigrant support organisation has said.

NASC, which works to promote the integration of immigrants in society, has raised concerns that vulnerable people are being trafficked into the city and forced to beg.

Fifteen people were arrested at the weekend in the city in connection with on-street begging. Communications officer with NASC Jennifer DeWan said she believes the issue is becoming more prevalent in Cork.

“It is possible that there is a connection between the increased levels of trafficking, begging and Brexit.

“It appears whoever is doing this is bypassing the UK now and using Ireland as an alternative, due to the freedom of movement.”

Ms DeWan said some of the most vulnerable people they have ever seen have been trapped into a life of sleeping on the streets and begging.

It’s believed that individuals are being brought to Cork from Eastern Europe and forced to beg for money that they must then give to their trafficker.

Local charity Penny Dinners has also raised concerns for individuals who have been lured to Ireland with the promise of a better life and employment.

Catriona Twomey of Penny Dinners said she is aware of five individual cases, in the past few months, who were “distraught and frightened” and were assisted by Nasc and the Garda Trafficking Unit to return to their home country.

Mrs Twomey said that the issue of organised begging is “big and widespread.” 

“Take a walk down Patrick Street at 11pm at night and see how many people are sleeping in doorways. It is shocking,” Mrs Twomey said.

Garda Superintendent John Quilter said: “We are looking at organised begging as part of our approach to tackling the begging issue, but it is difficult and it is resource-driven as well.

“But I suppose begging and organised begging is also a by-product of the current financial situation.

“It is the time of the year where there is more money, more people inside in the city in the run-up to the likes of the Christmas and we are in that period at the moment.”

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