Previously in this series, I’ve highlighted how the current conversation surrounding human trafficking, in Northern Ireland, has been significantly shaped by Lord Morrow (DUP) through his Private Members Bill.
I spoke with Lord Morrow to further discuss his PMB which is still currently making its way through the Northern Ireland Assembly, and some other issues surrounding it. During our meeting, Lord Morrow told me that the Bill has three main objectives;
“one, the prosecution of traffickers and those subjecting people in Northern Ireland to conditions of slavery; two, its the provision of improved support for victims of trafficking; and three for tackling the demand for trafficking.”
Much of the controversy surrounding Lord Morrow’s PMB has surrounded Clause 6, which would make it illegal to pay for sex in Northern Ireland. There have been many claims that we currently don’t know enough about the ‘sex scene’ in Northern Ireland to know the impact, if any, Clause 6 would have on tackling human trafficking in Northern Ireland. In order to investigate further, the Justice Committee have commissioned Queen’s University Belfast to conduct research into prostitution in Northern Ireland, which reportedly will be complete by October.
I put it to Lord Morrow that, when Amnesty International UK submitted their evidence to the Justice Committee on Lord Morrow’s PMB, they had suggested that we should wait until more research has been compiled in this area. I therefore asked Lord Morrow if he thought we should wait for more research, as Amnesty International UK suggested, or did he think that it was merely a delaying tactic?
Lord Morrow met the Justice Committee on the 14th March 2014 to discuss his amendments to his Private Members Bill. One such amendment he is proposing is that aimed at Clause 10, which would see services provided to help people who are currently working in the prostitution industry, to leave if they wish to do so.
“I have also responded to the evidence given to the Committee by numerous parties, including Women’s Aid and Ruhama, about the need to provide services to help people in prostitution to exit by proposing a new clause, 10A, which rises to this very important challenge.”
With this in mind, I asked Lord Morrow what the need would then be for Clause 6?
Finally, I asked Lord Morrow about his thoughts regarding Amnesty, an organisation that mainly supports his PMB, but are highly critical of Clause 6. Lord Morrow told me that he personally feels that all the tell tale signs are there that Amnesty have a Sinn Fein agenda.
Paul Wyatt is one of the founding scoop members. As one of our on-the-ground reporters, Paul reports on anything and everything happening in Queen's, the greater Belfast area, and beyond.