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Question

712. Deputy Ivana Bacik asked the Minister for Justice the status of the National Referral Mechanism; and if it will be inclusive of all suspected trafficking victims regardless of nationality and immigration status. [52036/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): When suspected victims of human trafficking are either encountered by, or referred to An Garda Síochána, they are provided with a wide range of services by both the Government and NGOs through the National Referral Mechanism.
Supports available under the NRM include accommodation, medical care, care planning, legal advice and aid, immigration permission, police services, employment and vocational training, translation and interpretation services and voluntary return home.
On 11 May, the Government approved plans for a revised NRM to make it easier for victims of human trafficking to come forward and be supported. My Department also received approval on that date to draft a general scheme of a Bill to put the new NRM on a statutory footing.
The new approach will recognise the role of other state bodies and NGOs, in addition to An Garda Síochána, in identifying victims of human trafficking and referring them
It is important to highlight that referral to the NRM is currently, and will continue to be, available to all victims of trafficking regardless of their nationality or immigration status. The reforms being made will make it easier for victims to come forward, to be officially recognised as victims of human trafficking, and to receive the appropriate supports. I would draw the Deputy's attention to the fact that a considerable proportion of recognised victims in recent years have been EU citizens, as documented in the annual reports on human trafficking published on https://www.blueblindfold.ie/about-blueblindfold-and-for-further-information/
The decision taken by Government to expand the list of competent authorities will create alternative avenues so that all victims of trafficking are comfortable coming forward, confident they will be helped and supported. Doing this will also help us gather more information and evidence in order to bring to justice the traffickers who prey on vulnerable people with no regard for the lives and safety of their victims
There is considerable detailed work to be done to get the revised NRM up-and-running. That work has begun, and my Department is committed to working through all the detail in a collaborative spirit with Departments, agencies and with the key NGO partners.