Prostitution and drugs accounted for €1.258 billion ($1.7 bn) to Ireland’s economic activity last year, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The government has been forced to revise how it accounts for economic activity following a new regulation from the EU Commission requiring all member states to include the “black market” in their final tally, but it is refusing to divulge how it estimates the economic impact of illegal activity.
In Ireland, 2013 nominal GDP increased from €164.1 billion to €174.8 billion. The narcotics and prostitution trades accounted for €1.258 billion of this increase.
According to economics experts, the government will welcome the upgrade as it puts a much better complexion on the state of the national coffers.
But the Immigrant Council of Ireland said that “billionaire pimps, pushers and thugs have no role in Irish economy.”
The council said the GDP figures confirm the hold organized crime has on the country, and the cash generated is fuelling sex-trafficking and human rights abuses, including the rape of women and girls in brothels.
Council spokeswoman Denise Carlton said, “People will be rightfully shocked that pimps, pushers and traffickers are using criminal activity to take cash which would otherwise be spent in legitimate businesses where it would create jobs and support the economic recovery.
“We have always argued that the best way to shut down these criminal ‘enterprises’ is to bring in laws targeting demand – in other words, the buyers of sex.”
Anti-trafficking coordinator with the Immigrant Council, Nusha Yonkova, said the figures are shocking but no great surprise.
“It is estimated that in Europe human traffickers are pocketing €25 billion a year by exploiting up to a million people. It would be foolish to believe that Ireland is somehow immune from this crime,” she said.
She said other jurisdictions are putting pimps out of business by targeting buyers of sex, rather than prostitutes themselves.
“Ireland must not lag behind and run the danger of becoming a high profit, low risk haven for traffickers,” Yonkova added.