The Law and Your Rights

Sex Work in Ireland – KNOW YOUR RIGHTS    

  • Working Alone Indoors/Outdoors
  • Working in Pairs/Groups
  • Advertising, Hiring Security, Management, or Transport
  • Living Off the Earnings of Another Person’s Sex Work (incl renting a room/apartment to a worker)
  • Paying for Sexual Services
Dealing With Gardaí
  • Stay Calm, Speak Politely, Clearly, and Firmly
Entering and Searching Workplace

If uniformed Gardaí knock on your door:

  • Ask them to show I.D. through the peep hole, or while chain is on the door, to prove they are the police.

If you open the door:

  • Ask what the visit is about.  Ask for ID, write down names of Gardai, ask to see their warrant. 

Without a warrant:

  •  The Gardaí cannot enter or search your place unless you invite or allow them inside, even if you are with a client. Once inside they can do a search.

If the Gardaí do have a warrant:

  •  You have the right to ask why they are searching the premises and under what law. If you don’t ask it is possible they won’t tell you.

If the Gardaí ask you questions about your work or ask you to go to the station for questioning:

  • Ask them if you are under arrest and for what. If you are not under arrest you do not have to answer questions or go to the station. (However, if you are a non-EEA national and the Garda asks for your passport and GNIB card, you must show these.
  • Tell them you need legal advice before answering questions. If they say it is just a chat and you have nothing to worry about, explain that you have had problems in the past and prefer to do things properly. 

Sometimes Gardaí make fake appointments and come in plain clothes: 

  • Once you find out they are a Garda and they don’t have a warrant, you are entitled to ask them to leave. If you give informed consent (i.e. you find out they are a Garda and you don’t ask them to leave immediately), they may be allowed to use evidence against you that they have obtained undercover without a warrant. The law on what evidence can or cannot be used against you is not clear and every case will be decided on its own facts.

If you are with another worker(s), or other workers use the same apartment at different times:

  • You are at risk of arrest for Brothel Keeping. However, the law is not clear on this and you should seek legal advice at all times when dealing with the Gardaí. You do not have to plead guilty.

To arrest you:

  • Gardaí must have a reasonable suspicion you have broken the law. You have the right to be told very clearly you are under arrest and the reason for your arrest.
If you are arrested: 
  • Ask for an interpreter if English isn’t your first language. Even if you speak English well, always ask for an interpreter. You need to understand everything.
  • Ask to call a solicitor. You should not answer any questions, no matter what, until you have had a legal consultation with your solicitor in private. THE ONLY QUESTIONS YOU MUST ANSWER ARE: YOUR NAME and YOUR ADDRESS. Many solicitor firms have 24/7 service. Always have a number for a solicitor with you when you work.
  • You have the right to have a solicitor present during questioning, i.e. when you are being questioned by the Gardaí in a Garda Station.
  • If the Gardaí take some of your items as evidence (e.g. phone or laptop) ask them for a signed receipt with all items taken listed.
If your client is arrested:
  • You do not have to make a statement to Gardai.
Working in a hotel

The law around hotel sex work is unclear:

  •  It may be considered ‘Brothel Keeping’ if more than one worker is in the same room.

If hotel staff ask you to leave:

  • You have a right to know why.
  • If hotel staff accuse you of escorting and threaten to call the Gardaí, you can ask what proof they have and/or agree to leave if the cost of your room is refunded.

If the Gardaí come to your hotel room:

  • Follow the same advice for working in an apartment or house.

Working Outdoors

Gardai can only search your car if they have reason to believe there are drugs or stolen property inside. Follow same advice as above.

SWAI (Sex Workers Alliance Ireland): 085 824 9305 

Disclaimer: This information has been prepared by the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland for information purposes only, with no guarantee as to accuracy or applicability to a particular set of circumstances. It is not intended as, and should not be considered to be, legal advice. The information may change from time-to-time and may be out of date. The Sex Workers Alliance Ireland disclaims any legal responsibility for the content or the accuracy of the information provided.