With Gardai carrying out raids at six premises in Letterkenny earlier this week as part of a major cross-border crackdown on prostitution and brothel keeping a leading organisation helping women in the sex trade in this country said she had absolutely ‘no doubt’ there was prostitution in Inishowen.

Gerardine Rowley, of Rhuama, said her organisation had helped a woman trafficked into the sex trade in Buncrana some time back She told the ‘Journal’: “The authorities on both sides of the border raided 140 brothels this week. That is a startling statistic.

“What most people don’t realise is that in any one day there could be up to a 1,000 women involved in prostitution in this country.

“By clicking on to the internet and going to a site you can come across 700 women ‘for sale’ at any one time.

“It’s getting worse.”

“I cannot give you facts and figures for Inishowen but there is absolutely no doubt that it is going on. Anywhere there is a computer and a population where this can go on relatively unobserved it will be happening.”

Ms Rowley said the usual operation method was to set a couple of the women, mainly foreign nationals, in an apartment and set up appointments for them.

They would only be there for a short while before they were moved on again.

The money raised was, she said, huge and growing every more profitable.

It was a major criminal enterprise trading in misery.

“Many of the women involved cannot speak English, have no friends and are totally isolated. That makes them dependent on the ‘pimp’ the very person who is exploiting them.

“They also believe that if they go to the Gardai they are the ones who will get in trouble. So I’m glad this time the message has gone out that the gardai are there to help the women, not prosecute them”

Six houses and apartments in Letterkenny were raided by 20 gardaí, including detectives and members of the immigration bureau.

While no arrests were made, a number of individuals were questioned at the location.

A quantity of cash, credits cards, documents and laptop computers were seized in the operation.

A spokesman at Letterkenny Garda Station said the raids were part of an investigation into prostitution and human trafficking.

The Letterkenny raids were part of Operation Quest, a national and cross-border probe into prostitution, brothel keeping, human trafficking and money laundering that saw over 100 premises in the Republic raided.

Gardaí say the investigation has established that prostitution is organised on a cross-border basis.