Women In the Creative Industries

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On Friday 22nd April three inspiring women hosted an event as part of the Belfast Film Festival, which demonstrated how women are treated and portrayed in this particular medium.

First to speak was Fiona McElroy, the Creative Enterprise Manager at Ulster University since 2006. Fiona founded the Honeycomb Creative Works project, a £3.58m program targeted at the digital content sector across the INTERREG IVA region of Northern Ireland, the six border counties of the Republic of Ireland and the western seaboard of Scotland.

She spoke about the work Honeycomb has done for women in particular. It conducted 19 research reports examining discrimination, bullying and sexism in the creative industries. It also works closely with women who want to either break into or get back into this kind of work. It is a particularly difficult place for young females as it is seen as a predominantly patriarchal occupation and Honeycomb helps them to find their niche. Furthermore, for women who have taken time out from the industry to have children and raise a family, the project works with them so they are not overwhelmed with having to re-join the workplace.

Honeycomb does this by nurturing talent and holds various workshops in order to build leadership skills and confidence as this is a tough industry and one must develop their own identity if they are to prove themselves.

To find out more about the Honeycomb Project please click below:

http://thehoneycomb.net

 

Next to speak was Sarah Edge, a professor in gender and film studies at Ulster University. She jokingly remarked that her course used to be called “feminism” but changed it to “gender studies” so as to attract more male students.

Sarah began by saying that in her opening class she asks her students to go out and ask others what a feminist is. Over the years the answer has gone from an ugly man-hating lesbian, to a ball-breaking career bitch who puts down other women who stay at home, then to a ladette, then finally the modern idea is a woman who simply wants equal rights for men and women.

Sarah gave an audiovisual talk, which explored how feminism has been portrayed in popular films over the decades and how the female role has changed throughout the post-feminist era.

The first films to be examined were Fatal Attraction (1979), Baby Boom (1987), Working Girl (1988), and Pretty Woman (1990). All of these films were released when the idea of feminism was a new concept. Each depict the clash between the new modern woman who is powerful and sexually liberated but is either damaged or un-fulfilled; and the ideal image of femininity which is what men really want.

Then after the year 2000, there were films like Miss Congeniality (2000), Legally Blonde (2001), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) and The Devil Wears Prada (2006) which featured women who have to alter themselves in order be successful, find romance, or be happy. Feminism is hinted at in each of these films but the women are not feminist characters even if they first appear to be.

Finally, with more recent films like Up in the Air (2009) and The Intern (2015) there is the introduction of the father figure. In each film the older man teaches the younger woman how be successful and happy in life, which presents the idea that women still need guidance from men.

 

The final speaker of the night was Margo Harkin, an award winning filmmaker from Co. Derry. Her work has spanned across many genres including documentary and feature films.

She spoke in detail about her lengthy career and said she wanted to become a filmmaker after Bloody Sunday as she felt the real stories weren’t being told on screen. Margo explains that workplace was “unbelievably sexist” when she started out and that “women were viewed in a suspicious light by men in the industry”. However, as she and her female colleagues proved themselves in their work it became a more supportive profession.

To find out more about Margo and her projects please click below:

http://www.besomproductions.co.uk/margo.html

 

One of the main objectives of this talk was to open up a dialogue between feminist researchers, academics, and women working in the creative industries themselves. It certainly was a superb demonstration of how far women have come over the years, and also how feminism has evolved in both the creative workplace and the work it produces.

For more info on the Belfast Film Festival please click below:

https://belfastfilmfestival.org

Ham Sandwich Rocks Belfast

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Irish indie rock band Ham Sandwich made their first appearance at The Belfast Empire Music Hall on Saturday 16th April and showed audiences they’re far more than a funny name.

The band who hail from Kells, Co. Meath formed in 2003 and consist of Niamh Farrell (lead vocals), Podge McNamee (vocals, guitar), Brian Darcy (guitar), David McEnroe (bass), Ollie Murphy (drums).

I first came across them on a sweltering hot day in July 2013 when they supported Mumford & Sons at their concert in Phoenix Park and was instantly drawn to their high-energy stage presence, interesting indie rock style, and not to mention the rare sight of a female at its fore front.

They have released three studio albums since their formation – Carry the Meek (2008), White Fox (2010), and most recently Stories from the Surface (2015), which reached No.1 in the Irish album charts. All of their albums were released on the band’s own independent label – Route 109A Records.

The band stands out from a visual perspective because of its petite pixie-like vocalist Niamh Farrell, with her powerful yet sweet vocals and commanding presence. She certainly proved on Saturday’s gig that she can hold her own while sharing a stage with seven big bearded men.

Watching them onstage reminded me of the female-fronted bands that were heavily prevalent in the 90’s, such as the Pixies, Letters to Cleo, The Cardigans, No Doubt, and the Cranberries (to name but a few) all featuring powerful charismatic women in bands where all the other members are male. The genre of rock music is definitely lacking its power queens so seeing a female commanding the room with haunting vocals is certainly refreshing.

Playing a mix of old singles and new releases, Ham Sandwich showcased their distinctive version of indie rock. Their singles “Ants”, “The Naturist”, and “Models” are always great crowd pleasers; but they introduced their newer music with songs “Apollo”, “Fandingo”, and “Illuminate” from the new album. These are songs I hadn’t heard and was really impressed with the new material.

The audience also got a treat when the band covered Donna Summer’s 1977 hit “I Feel Love” which suited Farrell’s vocal style perfectly and gave the audience the feeling of being in a funky 70’s disco – but without the tack & cheese!

I was a fan before this gig and Ham Sandwich definitely did not disappoint.image

To see more of Ham Sandwich please click below:

http://www.hamsandwichmusic.com

http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/Ham-Sandwich-tickets/artist/1424213

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdvFFXOWkvU

Unite the Union Gives The People A Chance To Grill Politicians Over Ballymena Job Losses

UniteLogo

 

UNITE THE UNION GIVES THE PEOPLE A CHANCE TO GRILL POLITICIANS OVER BALLYMENA JOB LOSSES

 

Unite the Union, Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union, held a public meeting in The Braid town hall in Ballymena last night.

The aim of the meeting was to address the issues of a lack of investment and job cuts that have hit the town and surrounding areas in recent months. Over one thousand manufacturing jobs are due to be lost in Ballymena with the announcement of the closures of tyre company Michelin and tobacco factory JTI Gallaher. Bosses at the two companies broke the news to their staff just before Christmas and doors are due to be shut for good in the summer.

Jamie Delargy, UTV’s Business Editor, chaired the meeting, which saw eight representatives from each of the political parties standing in the upcoming assembly elections face questions from the public. Over a hundred people, some employees of the ill-fated companies marked for closure, filled the auditorium in The Braid town hall in search of answers to the escalating issue.

The sense of anger within the crowd was palpable as the evening started off with one audience member pointing the finger of blame squarely at the politicians and their lack of action in preventing these factory closures in the town. DUP representative David McIlveen defended the performance of his party in the executive, stating that they had overseen the creation of 40,000 new jobs across Northern Ireland since the start of the last assembly term in 2011. This answer was met with a grumble from the crowd and jeers of “Not in Ballymena” from one man.

Another audience member, a worker for Chain Reaction Cycles based in Doagh, raised the issue of the bicycle manufacturing company’s announcement of a merger with English competitor Wiggle. The announcement came in February, and the man said he was issuing a formal ‘notice’ to the politicians of the workers fears that their jobs are in jeopardy. The worry for many, he said, was that jobs could be relocated to Wiggle’s base in Portsmouth and the merger was more like a “takeover.”

Adrian Cochrane-Watson, UUP MLA for South Antrim, responded by saying that he had close ties with the manufacturing sector and was a long-time trade union supporter. He informed the disgruntled worker that he had met with executives at Wiggle and was working on ensuring that no jobs were lost in Northern Ireland as a result of the merger.

Much of the latter portion of the evening saw audience members voicing their disillusionment in the performance of Invest NI, the body responsible for bringing jobs and investment in the region. Many felt that Invest NI’s focus was only on Belfast and they had done little to encourage investment in smaller towns such as Ballymena and Larne.

Lack of jobs for qualified teachers and drops in the profits of local farmers were also among the concerns of various audience members. Those on the panel however, could do little to appease the crowd, other than with assurances that they would try harder in the next five years.

https://www.investni.com/

http://www.unitetheunion.org/

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/northern-ireland/michelin-workers-reeling-from-massive-job-loss-blow-at-ballymena-truck-tyre-factory-34165389.html

Film Review: The Revenant

the revenant

Film Review: The Revenant

 

The Revenant is one of those films which is more of an endurance test than a piece of entertainment, more of an immersive experience than the observation of a story. Depending on how you look at it this can be other good or bad. One thing The Revenant is not, however, is boring.

The plot is a simple one, and one filmgoers have seen before. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Hugh Glass, a tracker and fur trapper in the 1820s frontier of North America. After he and his hunting party are attacked by a group of Native Americans, a dozen of the survivors flee into the wilderness. Glass is then mauled by a bear and is carried some distance by his fellow trappers, before the terrain makes transporting the injured man impossible. Soon bickering and dissenting loyalties among the group ensue. The antagonist of the group, Fitzgerald, played by Tom Hardy, kills Glass’ son and leaves the injured fur trapper for dead. The rest of the movie follows a similar narrative to that of any revenge flick, with DiCaprio’s character, half-dead, battling against the elements in pursuit of the man who killed his son.

What makes The Revenant a cut above the rest in its genre is the technical brilliance with which the filmmaking itself is executed. Director Alejandro Iñárritu uses similar techniques which brought him Oscar success last year with ‘Birdman’. Long, sweeping takes follow the action with few cuts, and there seems to be nowhere the camera cannot go: on horseback, into the air and underwater. Uncomfortably close shots of the actors’ faces, seething, panting and gazing into the cold wilderness put the viewer right beside them. The violence, from the opening scene of the Indian raid in the hunting camp to a knife fight and the incredible bear-mauling sequence is brutal and unrelenting.

Much of this immersive and engaging style must be accredited to the cinematography of Emmanuel Lubezki, who, along with the director, chose to shoot the film in all natural light for added authenticity. When the camera isn’t following arrows from Indian bows and swirling around on horseback pursuits, it is capturing the rocky mountain landscape and merciless terrain in all its petrifying glory. The use of pale, cold daylight results in jaw-dropping vista shots and breath-taking views of the vast forest and white mountain ranges that put the viewer right in the picture.

The score of the film imitates the uncomfortableness of the environment, with winding electronic drones and thunderous orchestral charges which drive the action forward.

The acting from the whole cast is superb. The real stand-out performance, however, must go to Leonardo DiCaprio- if for nothing but for the sheer endurance and strength to play such a physically demanding role. In a part with little dialogue, his character is portrayed through brutal action and a seething anger bubbling under the surface as he pursues his son’s killer. He is put through every obstacle the wilderness can throw at him and the viewer is freezing and writhing with him every step of the way.

So, if you’re looking for an easy, relaxing flick to unwind with after a long day, The Revenant is not it. However, for sheer spectacle and an incredibly immersive cinematic experience, you can do no better.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1663202/?ref_=nv_sr_1

http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-revenant

http://oscar.go.com/news/winners/oscar-winners-2016-see-the-complete-list

 

Reduction of numbers bill or reduction of women bill?

Stormont_Parliamentary_Building_01

It is one week before the assembly elections; candidates and their respective parties are making last minute moves to try and sway voters; that is one of the few things that they all have in common.

Well, there is one other thing that they have all agreed on, and that is the reduction of numbers bill. This has received cross community support.

In 2021 our MLAs will decrease in number from 108 to 90. This means that there will be five MLAs for each of the 18 constituencies instead of six.

It seems simple enough; my question is who is going to be the one unlucky person to be cut from each constituency.

Will the bill aggravate an existing problem?

In the devolved government of Northern Ireland only 23 out of the current 108 MLAs are women, so just under 21%.

In the assembly in five years from now (when eighteen politicians have to go) who is going to move aside or who is going to be pushed aside by their parties?

What is going to happen to the women in a government where there is already a gender-gap? Will they have space on a stage that is already taken up mostly by male players?

Caitriona Ruane (Sinn Féin) raised this question last year when the bill was being discussed.

She said: “What I would like to see is a much more representative House, with many more women in it. In bringing about the changes that we are bringing about, I am aware that reports have shown that there are potential dangers to women.

“We will come back here in 2021 worse than we are now, and where we are now is nothing short of disgraceful.”

If we are in a “disgraceful” state now, what will it be like when we have to find some politicians to cut?

Does the ‘M’ in MLA stand for man? Most of the parties are against applying quotas, so if this is not resolved by 2021 will Sinn Féin still think that the bill is a good idea?

Sinn Féin is one of the few parties that wants to implement quotas (along with the Greens).

Ms Ruane also said: “If we are really to change things, I argue that we need quotas. That is why I am going to argue here that I do not think that 2016 is the time to make the changes, because I do not want to see unrepresentativeness. It will only create even more difficulties down the line.”

Paula Bradley (DUP) told me that she had similar concerns. She said that she agrees that there needs to be a reduction of numbers, but had fears that women will be further under-represented in politics.

She said: “My greatest worry would be that it would penalise women, because we have found at election time it’s the women that lose out in the end.”

She acknowledged that there is already a small enough number of women in politics and the reduction of MLAs might “jeopardise” the gender further, but that it was “up to the parties” to “mitigate this” concern by “putting women in winnable seats.”

Not all women in politics share our concern. Baroness May Blood told me that she does not believe that this is: “a gender issue.”

Professor Monica McWilliams believes that the reduction of numbers does not have to impact women trying to get into politics: “if the parties adopted an affirmative action programme where they selected women to stand for safe seats.”

‘If’ being the operative word here.

Steven Agnew said that the Greens support the bill, but do share my “concerns about the impact on the number of female MLAs which is why [they] proposed there should be a minimum one third quota of female candidates for all political parties.”

Alliance wanted to see the bill in place for next week’s elections, instead of the next one.

Chris Lyttle (Alliance) personally proposed an amendment to the bill that would have seen the reduction in time for the upcoming elections, but the other parties blocked this proposal.

Mr Lyttle told me why he wanted to bring the change so early.

He said: “This would have saved approximately £11m over five years, which could have been reinvested in front-line public services in dire need of funding, for example health. The other parties blocked this proposal but I am still no clearer as to why it would be appropriate in 2021 but not 2016.”

He acknowledged that something has to be done to address the gender-gap, but does not believe that the bill will affect women.

He said: “I am proud to work with many talented women in the Alliance Party but I strongly agree that we need to do all we can to encourage more women to get involved in politics.”

He went on to say that “I don’t think the number of MLAs is a key factor in whether women decide to get involved in politics or are elected or not,” but said that he is not sure “what steps need to be taken to address the under-representation.”

I said at the beginning that the bill is something that our politicians have in common, because it received cross community support, but their opinions on whether the proposed change will affect women is another matter.

Everyone disagrees on whether the reduction will affect women, but what is clear is that there is a gender-gap in Northern Irish politics, and it will probably not change next week when the same old politicians are voted in as usual.

As for 2021, we will have to wait until five years’ time to see what parties will put women forward for winnable seats for an assembly made up of only 90 MLAs.

Music Seminar with Modular Maestro

Photo by DIT DJ Society: https://www.facebook.com/ditdj/
Photo by DIT DJ Society: https://www.facebook.com/ditdj/

On the 27th of April the Dublin Institute of Technology DJ Society hosted an analogue music seminar in collaboration with renowned local electronic music artist Matt Flanagan, better known as DeFeKT.

The event, which took place in The Bull and Castle in Dublin, was the second in series of seminars hosted by the group. Members of the society aim to invite a number of artists to share their experience and expertise with those participating. DeFeKT, who has been active in the electro scene for a number of years, was invited to educate participants about analogue and modular music.

Watch one of DeFeKT’s live performances:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1QP56em8EM

 

Entry into the event was free, however, there were a number of collections for the suicide and self-harm prevention charity, Pieta House. There was standing room only during the seminar, as the venue was filled to capacity.

Proceedings began with a modular synthesis workshop, in which DeFeKT gave a live musical demonstration of his improvised analogue sound. Following the musical display, he went on to talk at length about his experiences during his career as an artist. The informal lecture covered a broad range of topics including his own live shows, his knowledge of the music industry, and music production methods. Audience members were then invited to take part in a Q&A session with the artist. Aspiring musicians and music fans were given the opportunity to create a dialogue about the music scene, and to ask for advice in relation to their own careers.

As the seminar came to an end, those in attendance were invited to stay for a number of DJ performances from members of the DIT DJ society. The society plan to host a number of other seminars in future.

If you or a friend are feeling suicidal, or in distress, help is available from Pieta House:  http://www.pieta.ie/

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Photo credit of Pieta House Self-Harm or Suicide Crisis Centre https://www.facebook.com/pietahouse/

In Review: Anno Stamm – No One Else EP

http://www.allcityrecordlabel.com/
Image by All-City Records http://www.allcityrecordlabel.com/

Dublin based record label All City Records are not known for releasing conventional music. In fact, they have acquired a reputation for being purveyors of the eclectic and the extraordinary. For anyone who is familiar with the abnormal sounds of Berlin native Anno Stamm, it comes as no surprise to see him release his No One Else EP on All City.

On an aesthetic level you could easily overlook this record, but it would be to your detriment. A generic black record sleeve, familiar black vinyl, and an unassuming piece of record art could easily mask this peculiar auditory delight. Despite being a three track EP, it perfectly showcases Anno Stamm’s versatility as he blurs the lines between techno, house, and deep house. The eponymous first track “No One Else” is probably the obvious pick of the bunch for most DJ’s. Powerful sub-bass, catchy chopped vocals, and accentuated snare patterns combine to create a cleverly nostalgic, retro style floor filler.

Listen to and but the No One Else EP at: https://annostamm.bandcamp.com/album/anno-stamm-no-one-else
Image by Lars Stöwe. Listen to, and buy the No One Else EP at: https://annostamm.bandcamp.com/album/anno-stamm-no-one-else

 

Of all the tracks on this record the A-side will probably get the most plays, but it is on the B-Side that things get really interesting. Think of the melody of your favourite childhood nursery rhyme, or the melody of a music box. Now imagine that someone has warped the pleasant sounds and jingles, and layered them with a distorted kick drum, creating a track so sinister, that it would not seem out of place in a nightmare. If you can imagine what the might sound like, you might understand what the second track of the EP, “Charge It Up To My Account”, sounds like. Far from being a typical techno affair of relentless beats, the drum loops merely set the pace for this off-kilter melodic masterpiece. It is a pity that this track was selected as the B1 on the record, because although it is by far the most intriguing and creative track of the release, it is likely to be overshadowed by the A-side, as often is the case with many vinyl releases.

As we put the turntable needle down on the final track, the artist takes us in another direction completely. He rounds of the release with a blissful and relaxed deep house offering. “Sensing Social Sirens” changes the mood with its beautiful string and pad sounds, proverbially transporting us to a much different place from the previous tracks. Each track could have been produced by a different artist. Each track has a different sound. All tracks were created by Anno Stamm, a man who epitomises ingenuity. Given the fact that many EP’s have four productions, the consumer in me notices one problem with this EP, one that could also be attributed to the quality of the music; there are not enough tracks.

For more information about Anno Stamm and his music see: http://www.anstam.com/

 

Jackson leads Ulster to crucial victory over Leinster

A stunning performance from half-back partnership Paddy Jackson and Ruan Pienaar left Ulster to a priceless 30-6 victory over provincial rivals Leinster on Saturday.

At a packed out Kingspan Stadium, the Northern Province knew that only a win would keep their title winning hopes alive. In the penultimate weekend of the Guinness Pro-12 season, Ulster’s hopes of a semi-final berth hung in the balance.

Early in the game, it was the southern visitors that applied the early pressure but they failed to capitalise, penalised for holding on five metres from Ulster’s line. It was Ulster who then struck first blood with a Jackson penalty, which was shortly followed by a penalty try.

From then on, Leinster were always chasing the game, two penalties before half-time from outside half Jonathan Sexton kept them in the hunt. However, it was ultimately Ulster’s dogged defenced which ensured victory for the men in white.

Sustaining early pressure near their try line at the start of both halves frustrated Sexton and co, and it wasn’t long before Ulster applied their own second half pressure. A sweeping move involving Pienaar, Jackson and Luke Marshall sent fullback Jared Payne over for the try which really killed the game off as a contest.

Fittingly, it was Ulster’s 24-year-old fly half Jackson who had the final say on this occasion. He rounded off a fine individual performance both in defence, attack and from the tee firstly through a thumping tackle on Ian Madigan. Then, moments later, it was Jackson who intercepted a Leinster pass before displaying great speed to race the length of the pitch for the game’s final try.

In front of the on-looking Joe Schmidt, Jackson was clearly the standout number 10 on a field which consisted of the two men, Sexton and Madigan, who in recent times have been the preferred choices of Schmidt for a place in the Ireland squad.

It was a performance that kept Ulster’s season alive. They now go to Wales to play the Ospreys, knowing that a victory there will see them into the Semi Final stage.

In a season of inconsistency from an Ulster side who on paper should be a match for anyone in the Northern Hemisphere, this result suggested how good a side they could really be. With one more week of the regular season remaining, it really is all to play for, for the Ulstermen.

Prescription Thugs – Review

Drugs are never going to be a non-controversial subject, are they?

The title of this documentary film gives you a fair indication of what you will be looking at during the next hour and a half. It’s a Michael Moore-esque look at the American establishment, focusing specifically on the evils of prescription drug companies.

View ‘Prescription Thugs’ Trailer here

The film’s creator, director and narrator is Mr Chris Bell, a man who himself has struggled with addiction to prescription drugs. Not only this but Bell reveals in the first fifteen minutes that his older brother, Mike, died of a prescription drug overdose merely a few years ago.

Make no mistake, this is a sad story. An attempt to instantly grab the viewer’s heartstrings and to gently nudge them towards the immediate conclusion that prescription drug abuse is a huge problem in American society.

And it works. To begin with.

Over the counter, under the radar
Prescription drugs: over the counter and going under the radar

Throughout the film we are continually introduced to ostensibly good people who have battled with prescription drug abuse. From ex-pro wrestlers to mothers of four young children, the scope of the problem is revealed and continually emphasised.

The viewer is hit with some pretty damning statistics, such as the fact that in ten years, the top eleven pharmaceutical companies in the world made $711 billion in profit. That’s not spin, that’s fact. The facts given throughout the film absolutely lend themselves to the story-tellers intention of allowing the viewer to see that there is something fundamentally wrong and worse, dangerous,  with the American drug market.

However, after 45 minutes of sad tales and warnings I found myself wanting something different. What do the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  have to say about this cautionary tale? We’re told that a spokesperson from the opposing side declined to comment, which is a shame as the film ultimately needed such a comment to offer some balance.

In my opinion, the one-sidedness almost took the creator’s argument full circle. Essentially the point being hammered home throughout the duration of the film was, “Don’t listen to the FDA’s propaganda, they’re not giving you the full story”. A point which was, as I have said, well made to an extent. I ended the film feeling that the creator(s) hadn’t offered me the full story either.

As a documentary on an issue as contemporary as drugs it certainly offers some interesting points. By no means a ground-breaking documentary, but it is absolutely a relevant one to today’s society.

Michael Morrow

 

Further information on prescription drug abuse is available from the National Institute on Drug Abuse here: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/prescription-drugs-cold-medicines

 

 

Stop the Traffik

Lord Morrow at the Stop the Traffik talk in Belfast.
Lord Morrow at the Stop the Traffik talk in Belfast.

Lord Maurice Morrow took part in a Stop the Traffik talk in the Great Hall at Queen’s University last night (23rd March 2016).

The free discussion was organised by Stop the Traffik Belfast. A Facebook message about the event said that their aim is to answer the question: how can we stop human trafficking?

However, Lord Morrow said that he does not think that this is actually possible.

He said: “I don’t believe that we can wipe it out.”

He went on to explain that what we can do is deal harshly with the traffickers.

“I genuinely don’t believe that any more than our forefathers who brought legislation to deal with murder, to deal with robberies; we still have those things, but now we have tougher legislation to deal with it,” he said.

Lord Morrow is part of the Assembly’s All Party Group on Human Trafficking.

He talked about his own surprise at hearing that trafficking actually occurs here.

He said: “To my shame, I would have been saying: (a few years ago) human trafficking in Northern Ireland, really?”

He went on to say that “Human trafficking does happen here in Northern Ireland, thankfully not in a scale as other countries, but unfortunately and sadly it does, but I believe that with better awareness around human trafficking we can curtail it.”

Lord Morrow also sponsored the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill, which makes Northern Ireland the only part of the UK where paying for sex is a criminal offence.

I asked him about the argument made by some sex workers that the bill drives sex work underground.

He said: “This is often used that we are driving it underground […] it is already underground as much as it can be and […] I don’t think we can drive it any further underground.”

Lord Morrow described trafficking as “modern day slavery” and said that it is up to those who are in politics who “have a duty and a responsibility” to try to stop the traffik.