A bishop has claimed that prostitution will become a “scourge” in border towns like Letterkenny if laws on the sex trade in the south are not brought in line with those in the north.

Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey spoke to The Irish Catholic newspaper following EU Anti-Trafficking Day on Sunday.

He warned that failure to change the law in the Republic would result in the issue affecting other border towns such as Dundalk and Monaghan.

“What you will find is that people who want to access prostitution could do it legally in the south but not in the north,” he said.

Calling on the Irish government to “prioritize” the Criminal Law (Sexual Offenses) Bill 2015, McAreavey said, “It would be terrific thing if the whole island had similar legislation in relation to prostitution and human trafficking.”

The bishop pointed to the fact that the proposals in the bill, introduced by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, mirrored the approach adopted in Northern Ireland and other jurisdictions.

McAreavey also warned that there was a “lack of public awareness” about the issue of human trafficking in Ireland.