(ahead of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers)

6TH DEC 2023 | 4pm – 7pm | A4 SOUNDS GALLERY

Ahead of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers the Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland are holding a banner-making and screenprinting event in A4 Sounds.

This year we are organising this event to encourage sex workers to harness community outrage through the power of creative expression in a supported environment, with the theme inspired by Laura Lee’s statement ‘Supporters of the Nordic Model have blood on their hands’.

From 3pm feel free to drop in and be guided through the screen printing process by our amazing facilitator Leea Berry. There will be two designs to choose from. Donations will be collected on the day per print. We will have some t-shirts and tote bags available to purchase on the day but we advise you to bring your own. All funds raised will go towards SWAI’s voucher fund.

We will have banner-making in the gallery where we encourage sex workers and allies to express their anger at the current laws in Ireland. We will provide markers, fabric and inspiration for anyone who wishes to participate. This is open to sex workers and allies.

There will be a Raffle at 7:00pm, with some saucy prizes. Afterwards, we will have performers in the gallery including poetry and music.

This event takes place indoors and is masked. FFP2 masks will be available at the door.



Print your own Tee from 2 amazing designs available on the day!

No experience needed! You’ll be guided through the screen printing process by our amazing facilitator Leea Berry.

Feel free to drop in anytime but do allow at least 30 mins per print.



We will be making a banner that says “Supporters of the Nordic Model have blood on their hands” and asking people to express their feelings about the current laws in Ireland that force sex workers to work on their own to work legally. 

We will provide markers, fabric and inspiration for anyone who wishes to participate. This is open to sex workers and allies.

Nicole image

Poetry by: Nicole Gavagan is a Portuguese-Irish artist known for her work in poetry and performance. Her work is written with deliberate intent to be provocative and to shed light on social and economic issues.Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/prima.pvssy.bitch/

Claire image

Music by: Claire Bear. Your dad’s favourite homeless transexual escort and noise musician.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/str8_g1rl/

Read more about accessibility, how to get to A4 Sounds and tips on what to bring for screen printing here: https://a4sounds.org/swai-banner-making-screenprinting-session/

If you can’t make it on Wednesday but would still like to donate to our voucher fund you can donate through our Paypal here: paypal.me/swaiireland

Megaphone saying Press relelase

The Sex Workers Alliance of Ireland (SWAI) is deeply disappointed and frustrated with the Minister for Justice’s refusal to meet with them to discuss Part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) 2017 report.

Linda Kavanagh, spokesperson for SWAI says “Sex workers are the primary stakeholders in this review. SWAI’s role in Irish society is to ensure sex workers’ voices get heard in the policies that affect their lives. No one wants to see laws and policies that keep sex workers safe more than sex workers themselves. 

Despite repeated requests, SWAI has never received any response regarding the review process. The review has been delayed several times, and the independent reviewer in charge of the report has recently stepped back. SWAI demands that the review be scrapped and redone as they believe that the sex workers’ voices have not been heard.

The email from the Minister’s office stated “Unfortunately, due to heavy work schedules, it is not possible to facilitate a meeting.” We too have busy schedules dealing with the fallout of this extremely damaging law, such as evictions, homelessness and suicidality, to name a few. 

There were many media opportunities recently involving the Minister regarding the issue of crime in Dublin city, despite evidence that crime is actually down this year. We’re asking for engagement on the myriad of evidence that shows that the Nordic model of client criminalisation is actively harming sex workers. What kind of trust can we have in the Department of Justice when ideology is prioritised over lived experience, evidence and research? We have to ask whether the Minister thinks she is above meeting us. 

SWAI is appalled to learn through the media that the Department of Justice plans to include the sex-for-rent law in this review. This is not the purpose of the review process, and it should not be rushed to accommodate the Department of Justice’s timeline. The review process was built into the law when it passed.

SWAI does not support sex-for-rent laws and firmly believes that the best way to tackle exploitation in both the housing crisis and sex work is to address the lack of affordable housing, alleviate poverty, and end inequality. The current government has failed to make significant changes by addressing pertinent issues. Instead, they have opted to pass superficial laws that do not address the root cause of the problem.

This year has been a devastating one for sex workers in Ireland. In April we learned of a sex worker being murdering Limerick, trust in Gardaí remains incredibly low and we are steeling ourselves for the inevitable raids dressed up as welfare checks that come every November. 

SWAI warned the government that violence would increase under the Nordic Model of client criminalisation. Sex workers in Ireland already feel ignored and outcast due to stigma and shame, refusing to meet with SWAI compounds this stigmatisation. When we are being murdered, attacked, robbed and lied to by Gardaí, what does it take for us to be listened to?

Sex Workers Awareness Training

The Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) are delighted to announce our new Sex Worker Awareness Training, available in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Developed by sex workers, this training will enhance participants’ knowledge including:

  • What is sex work?
  • Appropriate language and terminology
  • Barriers, stigma, and discrimination experienced by sex workers
  • Models of laws, what do sex workers want?
  • Sex worker services including information about SWAI
  • How you can provide sex worker-friendly services

This training is appropriate for organisations and groups either working with sex workers or those who are wanting to improve their knowledge, professional practice, and inclusion. This training can run from 1-2 hours, and be done online or in person, depending on your needs. We deliver this training with passion and enthusiasm for learning and growth, whilst encouraging a safe learning environment for participants.

SWAI charges a reasonable fee to deliver Sex Worker Awareness Training. However, we do not want finances to be a barrier to accessing this training so we can discuss fees once we receive a completed training request form. 

Mardi Kennedy, co-ordinator of SWAI says “For over a decade I have worked with sex workers in Melbourne, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland as an advocate, educator and support worker. This training has been developed with sex workers and delivered to various human rights, health and LGBTQIA+ organisations, colleges and universities, Human Rights Festivals’, sex Therapists, art spaces and more. We receive consistent, positive feedback and gratitude for sharing our sex worker-informed, first-hand knowledge. This training is for everyone and we would love to deliver it to you!  

Please note: as staff work part-time, we will endeavour to respond as soon as possible and appreciate your patience as it may take a couple of weeks. 


SWAI came to talk to DCU as part of a module called Ireland Sex and Text. Originally offered to final year students, the discussion was open to anyone in the University. The session was outstanding inasmuch as the audience was very receptive interested in the practical information delivered as well as in the theoretical/philosophical discourses sustaining SWAI. We had about 80 people of all ages, Irish and non-Irish, from different constituencies within the University. Thank you Mardi!

Jean-Philippe Imbert

I attended your first training session in Outhouse a few weeks ago and absolutely adored it, as a former sex worker myself I found it incredibly informative and interesting.




Inernational Sex Workers Rights Day

Mardi, our coordinator writes about her experience in India where she met the founders of International Sex Workers’ Rights day. The Durbar Mahila Samawaya Committee (DMSC) founded the day in 2021. 

“When I visited DMSC in Kolkata, India, I was awestruck and inspired by the successful outcomes of community organising by sex workers. I was generously introduced to members of the committee, and sex workers in their workplace, I met performers who are the children of sex workers and visited health clinics within the sex work district. I learned about their financial cooperative and other infrastructure that sex workers established, as society has previously excluded access to sex workers due to their work, class, and gender identities.

We see similar accessibility barriers within our own society in Ireland due to the current laws that promote stigma and discrimination towards sex workers. SWAI is engaging with sex workers to build solidarity and strength within our community to overcome isolation and prejudice, facilitate inclusion and establish non-judgemental, safer spaces.”  

Research Policy

SWAI is frequently contacted by academics, organisations, and individual researchers within and outside of Ireland to support their research by identifying participants, promoting research, facilitating peer interviews, and participating in advisory panels. 

We are aware of the sex worker community being over-researched by non-peers without outcomes that improve sex workers’ lives. SWAI is concerned about the fatigue and potential for increased poor mental health outcomes for sex workers participating in interviews, with little or no appropriate follow-up offered by professionals.

We recognise that there may be occasional variations to the rule, however where there is capacity, we shall be prioritising our labour/knowledge/network access towards research requests that are conducted by sex worker researchers and concerning topics which support the objectives of a) improving the working and living conditions of sex workers, b) progressing our work to eliminate stigma and discrimination, and c) increasing access to support services

If you would like to contact us regarding your research, please complete our criteria of assessment for requests of SWAI engagement with research:

  1. Do you have lived experience in the sex industry (all responses will be treated with confidentiality, more details below)?
  2. Have you already secured funding for your research? If yes, please specify.
  3. What are the needs of the research?
    • Do you want SWAI to promote?
    • Do you want SWAI to recruit participants? If yes, what is the agreed participant payment?
    • Do you want SWAI to recruit peer researchers? If yes, what is the reimbursement of labour to SWAI?
    • Do you want SWAI staff to participate in advisory panels? If yes, how many hours will be required?
    • Other requirements, please detail. 
  4. How does the research topic align with SWAI’s values and Mission Statement?

All applications received will be confidential in accordance with our policy of not ‘outing’ sex workers. We will respond to your request based on the information you have provided and our availability. Please note that our staff work part-time. It is recommended that you do not rely solely on SWAI participation as we have very limited capacity to approve requests.

Board announcement!

We are so pleased to announce the new SWAI board! The Sex Workers Alliance Ireland welcome Leea Berry, Leah Butler and Lianne O’Hara to our board of directors. 

Leea Berry is a Domina and activist taking the role of Treasurer of the Board. Her experiences of harassment and eventually eviction by the Gardaí under the Nordic model in Ireland make her an ideal candidate, with lived experience of life as a sex worker in Ireland.

Leah Butler is taking the role of Chair of the Board and has a BA (Hons) in History and Folklore with structured electives in Equality Studies from University College Dublin. She brings a wealth of experience in grassroots activism and community organising to this role. 

Lianne O’Hara is taking the role of Secretary. She is a poet and playwright. Her debut play Fluff, following two Dublin strippers through an evening’s work, sold out a six-show run at the Smock Alley Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2022. Her deep ties to the sex worker community are invaluable to our organisation.

This board, along with our new coordinator Mardi Kennedy, will ensure a sustainable, sex worker community-focused organisation fighting for the human rights and safety of sex workers on the island of Ireland. To find out more about our team please check out the About Us section of the website.

We are also seeking additional board members for SWAI. If you are interested please read this Board Call Out post and email [email protected]. We are actively seeking board members from diverse and non-traditional backgrounds, and particularly welcome applications from current or former sex workers. Come join our team in the fight to ensure the voices of sex workers are heard

The Organisation:

Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) advocates for the human rights and safety of sex workers on the island of Ireland. SWAI is dedicated to decriminalisation, destigmatisation, and community development through outreach, changes in policy and legislation, and increased visibility of sex work in society. 

SWAI is a frontline, sex worker-led and community-focused non-governmental organisation in Ireland. We understand ‘sex workers’ as anyone engaged in transactional sexual services indoor, outdoor, and online – including but not limited to street workers, brothel workers, strippers, escorts, those working in massage parlours, online content creators, and pro dommes. Within this definition, we recognise differences in gender, socio-economic background, ethnicity, migratory status, sexuality, and how these may influence one’s work experiences and definitions of self in relation to sex work (working girl, prostitute, entertainer, dancer, gigolo, masseuse, etc).

SWAI believes in full decriminalisation, human rights for sex workers, equality, confidentiality, bodily autonomy, freedom of movement and migration, inclusion, anti-capitalism, and anti-white supremacy. We have a strict policy of not outing sex workers.

The Role:

Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) seeks applications for appointment as directors of its Board, who are Trustees and volunteers. 

The Board is made up of six to seven directors, including three officers (Chair, Secretary and Treasurer).

For Board directors, a range of skills are sought, both within and outside the community development sector, to devise and implement a strategy of advocacy, education, and research in relation to the advance of human rights for sex workers, and to govern the organisation, as a company limited by guarantee and not-for-profit NGO.

Responsibilities will include the following:

  • Providing input to the strategic direction of SWAI and contributing with insight, oversight, and experience in strategic planning in the sector 
  • Policy formation, planning and implementation as required 
  • Governance responsibilities

Essential Skills/Qualities required for the role:

  • An understanding of and commitment to SWAI’s objectives, in particular advocacy and education in relation to the advance of human rights for sex workers
  • Commitment to the highest levels of governance

Desirable Skills/Qualities/Profile required for Board members:

  • Persons with experience in sex work, indoor, outdoor, or online
  • Persons with experience as Chair, Treasurer, or Secretary
  • A deep appreciation and knowledge of the community development sector
  • An understanding of horizontal, non-hierarchical organising
  • An understanding of the current landscape in relation to sex work in Ireland, both in policy and legal frameworks and in the community
  • Persons with experience in finance; research; accounting; administration; or
  • Practising or retired academics, solicitors, barristers, mental health professionals, social workers, in Ireland or Northern Ireland

General duties of a Trustee:

  • Comply with the organisation’s governing documents
  • Ensuring the organisation is complying with its purpose for the public benefit 
  • Acting in the best interest of the organisation 
  • Act with reasonable care and skill 
  • Manage the assets of the organisation 


The vacancy will be appointed by co-option on and with effect from 15 February 2023. The term will last until the next Annual General Meeting (September 2023), at which there is a possibility of election for a subsequent term of at least one year.

Board Meetings:

There will be 6 board meetings per year. There will also be monthly team meetings that board directors are requested to attend. Board and team meetings are typically held online.


Sex Workers Alliance Ireland is committed to diversity in appointments to the Board and team, in terms of gender; age; ethnicity; sexual orientation; the inclusion of sex workers and those involved in community development; geography in terms of residence or place of business on the island of Ireland (including both legal jurisdictions).

The Nomination Committee, led by the Chair, has been asked to have regard to the skills and diversity on the Board and to recommend appointments, where possible, on the basis of bringing the Board towards a balance ensuring the highest level of diversity possible. 

We particularly welcome applications from current or former sex workers.

Application Deadline:

Applications should be made to [email protected] by 15 January 2023 and will be treated strictly in confidence. Please include in your application previous board experience (if any), a short statement outlining your motivation for wanting to join the SWAI Board of Directors, and, if you wish, your status as a sex worker (if any).

Red umbrella yellow background

Linda Kavanagh, communications manager for the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) says “The Trafficking in Persons Report released yesterday highlights that there has been no successful labour trafficking prosecutions in Ireland in the past year. Two prosecutions in Ireland show that the Irish government is still falling short of any meaningful reduction in sex trafficking. SWAI demands that sex work is decriminalised to help identify victims.” 

She continued “It is no surprise to us that victims of labour trafficking were deported even though they self-identified. In a meeting with SWAI in 2020 senior Gardaí told us they did not believe self-identified trafficking victims existed and those claiming this status were doing so solely to avoid deportation.” 

“Year after year the Trafficking in Persons report, and experts, acknowledge that Direct Provision is unsuitable accommodation for trafficking victims, which is a tacit acknowledgement that Direct Provision can compound trauma and is not fit for purpose. We support calls to End Direct Provision.”

“Since 2017 when the law introduced client criminalisation and increased fines and jail time for so-called brothel keeping, Ireland has struggled to identify trafficking victims. Gardaí themselves have admitted to us that intelligence has fallen since the law was introduced. This is because Gardaí are antagonising their best resource to combat sex trafficking, sex workers themselves. 

The sex work law was introduced with great fanfare, with wild claims that it would eradicate sex trafficking, despite it failing to do so in any country that it has been introduced into, including Northern Ireland. Our sex purchase laws have driven sex work underground, moving the small but very real number of sex trafficked victims away from agencies which can help them. 

SWAI condemns trafficking and any form of exploitation in the sex industry. However, the law is failing on its own terms. Sex workers won’t report crimes against them to Gardaí and Gardaí are indifferent to this. In fact, our laws have caused a 92% increase in crime against sex workers. What use are these laws, if not to protect people?

Prevention and resilience to trafficking are better than prosecution after the fact. Central to anti-trafficking strategies in other sectors are workers’ ability to organise, unionise and report. Sex workers are not allowed to organise in this way because they must work alone to work legally. Other avenues of reporting and identification should be available to trafficking victims as recommended by this report. A firewall is needed between immigration and sex crimes so that undocumented people feel safe to report crimes against them without fear of deportation. 

The war in Ukraine is cynically being used by sex work prohibitionists to push their agenda, despite there being no evidence that Ukrainian women are being trafficked here for sex. This is a waste of precious resources that could be used to help vulnerable people such as those in poverty, domestic violence situations, homelessness or addiction. 

If the Gardaí and the state want to combat trafficking and organised crime they should use laws for those specific purposes, not arresting consensual adults. There is no evidence that client criminalisation reduces either sex work or trafficking. How long will Ireland continue to stubbornly refuse to listen to sex workers when they say they want to help, but they can’t?

Today is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers and we want to highlight how, through government policies, the state pushes people into sex work.Years of austerity, the housing crisis, lack of supports for people using drugs, Direct Provision, limits to how many hours international students can work, lack of decent employment, lack of affordable childcare and precarious work are all contributing factors as to why people enter sex work.

Aoife Bloom, board member of SWAI said “Once people have entered sex work the current law in place ensures they are not safe. Client criminalisation was introduced in 2017 along with increases in the penalties and a potential jail sentence for working together for safety. This means that to work legally sex workers must work alone. Almost all sex workers we speak to would like the option of sharing a premises for safety. Most of the people who have been arrested for so-called brothel-keeping have been young, migrant sex workers.” 

She continues “Client criminalisation was introduced with great fanfare with the supposed aim of ending the demand for sex work and thereby ending trafficking in Ireland. It has utterly failed to achieve that goal. Focusing on the criminalisation of the clients of sex workers has done nothing to address the real root causes of human trafficking. Since we marked this day last year Ireland has languished at almost the bottom of the Trafficking in Persons report. Since last year trans people, especially trans sex workers of colour, are being murdered in record numbers globally. Since last year the violence which increased by 92% after the introduction of the law has not abated. Trans sex workers were the targets for the initial spate of violence that occurred here. 

Client criminalisation has not ended sex work in Ireland but it has given the client the upper hand in the negotiating process. A sex worker has to ensure the client feels safe as the client is the one taking the risk. The legal pressure that clients face is absorbed by sex workers. This means shorter negotiation times, more risk-taking such as not using a condom, less screening and taking on clients you would normally refuse to make up for lost income. The reality is sex work is still partially if not fully criminalised in Ireland. When you decriminalise the act of selling sex yet make all the conditions for selling sex illegal, it is just ideology. 

Recently a spate of so-called welfare checks by Gardaí have terrorised sex workers and even resulted in evictions. In the middle of winter, during an increase in the numbers of people contracting COVID, at the height of the housing crisis sex workers are being forced out of their homes by their landlords who cannot rent to them for fear of prosecution. This is the direct result of the law passed in 2017 which was supposed to end exploitation. Both the Gardaí and landlords are obliged to follow the law. The reality is that the Gardaí can’t help people that they are criminalising.”

“We are already degraded, objectified and mistreated by so many abusers and sometimes by the general public, we do not need to be treated in the same manner by the government or by officers of the law.”

– Naomi, active sex worker in Ireland  

Aoife says “Criminalising the purchase of sex has done nothing to remove the reasons why women sell sex in the first place, and neither did lockdown. No supports were put in place when this law was introduced. Sex work is an economic activity and sex workers need rights like all other workers. The first step is to decriminalise sex work so that the health and safety of sex workers can be prioritised.”

“I want it to be safe for everyone. It’s all about our safety.”

– Beth, current outdoor worker

#DecrimforSafety #SupportSafeSexWork

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Last year's IDEVASW vigil

The Sex Workers Alliance Ireland (SWAI) invites all sex workers, supporters and allies to join us at a candlelit vigil to mark International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers #IDEVASW.

The review of the laws governing sex work has stalled, Garda “welfare checks” have resulted in sex workers being evicted and sex workers have been deported during a global pandemic.

We have also seen some more prosecutions of violent criminals who attacked sex workers in the aftermath of the change in the law in 2017. For the second year in a row Ireland languishes in the Tier 2 Watchlist of the Trafficking in Persons report. Despite the promises of client criminalisation fewer trafficking victims have been identified and violence against sex workers has increased by 92%.

Stigma against sex workers rages on and affects the health, safety and security of sex workers in Ireland. We will have a moment’s silence for those who have suffered violence and lost their lives due to this abhorrent stigma.

We ask you to join us on Friday Dec 17th to call for an end to violence against sex workers, and to acknowledge that our laws do not address the root needs of sex workers, which are rights, health, safety and security.

Please contact Linda privately & confidentially for more information or join us at 6:30pm outside Leinster House. Email: [email protected]