Sex Workers Alliance Ireland questioned about the Department of Justice’s emergency funding after giving similar funding to Ireland’s leading advocate “End Demand” organization.
A spokesperson for the department responded that funding for NGOs whose goals and mission are opposed to those values and principles is not available.
A top organization on the rights of sex workers said that this government’s “culturally enriched position” has “no place in decision-making within the Department of Justice in terms of policy-making”. They also added that, unless they accept that “prostitution is actually abusing marginalized people,” they cannot have access to government funds.
The department’s decision also runs contrary to the World Health Organization (WHO), which advised sex workers to be involved in the development and implementation of health measures during the period of Covid-19.
Since 2017, the Irish Government has begun to criminalize the purchase of sex, not the sale of sex, and claims that it has been done to combat human trafficking and to protect vulnerable people in prostitution.
The Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) has reported a significant decrease in demand and has increased street work during this time. More than 160 new sex workers have come to their support group this year alone, they said.
“We were the one place sex workers got financial assistance during the pandemic, as sex workers were explicitly excluded from DoJ funding and from PUP payments,” said Coordinator Kate McGrew.
SWAI said they had no feedback on their submissions from the department, and despite not being contacted.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice said: “Funding is made available for projects that are aligned with wider Government policies.”