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The murder of a young prostitute working in the Grand Canal area was only a matter of time, one local garda said yesterday. According to gardai, the young women like Sinead Kelly are prepared to take risks that the old prostitutes working in the area would not consider. The older women also keep flats to which they take their clients and often have clients with whom they have regular contact. The younger women apparently do not discriminate.
They generally have two types of clients for whom gardai use the generic terms "drivers" - men in cars - and "walkers" - men who approach the prostitutes on foot and usually go to the canal bank for perfunctory sex. When you're addicted to drugs everything else comes second. One in five prostitutes interviewed in said they had been beaten up and 11 per cent said they had been raped. A garda working in the area says they have been concerned that one of the younger prostitutes would be murdered.
It is believed Ms Kelly 21 met a man in the Fitzwilliam Square-Grand Canal area and walked with him to the stretch of embankment on the north side of the Canal at Herbert Place to perform a sexual act behind the line of sycamore and lime trees that shade the canal from the street. Some people were nearby, but none had contacted the gardai by teatime yesterday.
Gardai patrol the area, trying to reduce both the incidence of nuisance and the threat to the younger prostitutes. This is the same act which legalised consensual homosexual sex over the age of The most significant impact of the new law on the streets has been that for the first time male clients can be charged with soliciting or importuning another person for the purposes of prostitution.
It is also an offence for a man to return to a spot where he has been seen importuning previously. Prosecutions of prostitutes' clients are increasing, gardai say, but this is having little effect on reducing the amount of activity in the Grand Canal area each evening and very little is being done to protect the very vulnerable young women working at the lowest end of the scale. Of the or so prostitutes working in the Grand Canal area, most have suffered serious assaults or rape.