US embassy cables, revealed via Wikileaks, show that children who have gone missing from Irish state care over the last three years have ended up working as sex slaves in brothels. During a private briefing with diplomats from the American Embassy, in Dublin, the Health Service Executive (HSE) made this shocking admission.
The cables showed that foreign-born children, who were under the care of the HSE, went missing and ended up in the sex-trade as far back as 2008. The HSE made these admissions while US diplomats were conducting research for an annual report into people trafficking in Ireland.
The HSE told diplomats that some foreign children had been retraced to brothels, restaurants and private households where they were being used as slaves. According to reports in the Irish Independent, the children were found in various towns throughout Ireland.
HSE officials, also terrifyingly, admitted that they were not keeping statistics on the numbers. A HSE briefing, in February 2009, said gardai had located two children, both missing from HSE care, working in the sex industry.
The annual report was forwarded to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
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The cables showed that HSE officials believe Chinese children were at greatest risk. The HSE also said that traffickers bringing these children to Ireland were most likely non-national, and had preyed on their compatriots.
In Ireland, if a child under the age of 17, arrives in Ireland without a parent or guardian, they are automatically placed in foster care or in a hostel facility run by the HSE. Every year dozens of children go missing. It is suspected that they end up with the traffickers who brought them into the country in the first place.
Irish police maintain that traffickers were actually targeting Ireland due to the ease with which children can escape from HSE facilities.
Briefings received by the US embassy between 2006 and 2008 indicated that there was no evidence to point to the fact that children were being trafficked into the sex trade. However, the HSE now acknowledges that children are in fact being trafficked into the sex trade in Ireland.