Extortion,Cops and Brothels.
IT LOOKS as though some things are going to change only slowly, if ever, on policing complaints, judging by the pace at which Judge Kevin Haugh’s Garda Ombudsman Commission is having its traumatic birth in the Fianna Fail Labour ward, and labour it was to even get a watered down ombudsman quango past the scrutiny of our boys in blue who are long unaccustomed to having anybody whosoever, looking over their broad shoulders.
A number of alleged 'ladies of the night' in Dublin 4 who had substantial cash sums seized have given up hope of ever recovering the money. They have been told it is being held as evidence. Indeed, it has been suggested that any cash recovered from the culprits may be the subject of investigation by the dreaded Criminal Assets Bureau, whose Revenue Commissioners section may feel obligated to investigate whether income tax had been paid on that and any other earnings. However, a complication in the series of raids arose when it turned out that a number of them were carried out by freelance individuals posing as detectives operating under cover of 'Operation Quest'.
A number of business ladies were relieved of their assets at several premises late last year during a series of supposed Operation Quest raids carried out by bogus detectives. At least one of the raiding parties has been identified as a serving member of the Garda Síochána.
The plain-clothes "Garda members" (who produced official identification cards) entered a number of escort agencies in Cork as well as Dublin and seized at least €70,000, although this figure may be much larger, since most of the victims have not complained.
The raids came as Garda HQ rode (?) the crest of a wave of favourable publicity about Operation Quest – the campaign to cut down on the growth of Ireland’s burgeoning sex industry. While it largely targets foreign nationals, a number of Irish business ladies were also caught in the Quest net. Not being such easy prey as undocumented aliens, two of these Irish ladies decided to complain to the Garda Ombudsman Commission.
It was then that they learned that the Ombudsman office will not start dealing with complaints until 2007.!!
Meanwhile, a traditional Garda internal inquiry has been held into the affair. Details of this will be given to the Commissioner, who will of course file the report in the vast Internal Inquiries library at Garda HQ, where all the other reports of confidential investigations into rogue behaviour and criminal activities by members are held in strictest secrecy.
It is thought unlikely at this stage that sufficient proof has been found to refer the matter to the DPP, nor is it likely that the outcome of the matter or the action taken by Commissioner Noel Conroy will ever be made public. Nice one lads.
(Report courtesy of the Phoenix Magazine)
Amsterdam's red light area is a big tourist attraction.
NICOLA TALLANT (Sunday Independent)
PROSTITUTES working in Dublin are now making significantly more money than they can earn in most other European cities, and a senior garda says our law-makers should consider legalisingthe business.
Gardai say that Eastern European girls are charging punters up to €400 an hour and are experiencing the same lunch hour rush as coffee shops and restaurants.
Average half-hour rates are now running at €130 which compares to just €50 for the same period in cities like Hamburg and Amsterdam.
A constant supply of Polish, Lithuanian and Slovenian girls are on the books of six major pimps servicing the capital. A major investigation into the brothel bosses has resulted in four facing charges for brothel-keeping and organising prostitution and files on the other two are set for the DPP.
Gardai say all the men have been involved in prostitution for years and are "old pros" when it comes to the business. Two are based in the UK and travel over and back to Ireland, another is based in Cyprus with his wife.
Detective Superintendent John McKeown, who heads Operation Quest at Store St Station, says that there is no evidence that any of the girls are being forced into prostitution, none is underage and most pocket 50 per cent of their earnings.
He says the oldest profession in the world is experiencing similar benefits of our booming economy as other industries and Dublin is now a highly sought after place to work. And he believes that politicians should considering legalising prostitution in a bid to monitor it properly and offer more protection to girls.
¨We have carried out an in-depth investigation into organised prostitution over the past 18 months and we have found no evidence of exploitation or trafficking. There are no gangs involved and there is little violence.
"The youngest girls appear to be 19 and most are in their 20s and early 30s. We have found no evidence of underage girls working - the pimps don't want to bring that kind of attention on themselves. The girls are working because they want to make money and Dublin is somewhere that they can earn a lot of money," Detective Superintendent McKeown said.
"I was very surprised when we started this investigation to find that a lot of the old myths regarding prostitution have gone out the window. It is a service that is in demand and there is a lot of money about nowadays. To put it simply, there is room for everyone and plenty of work. The pimps know one another and work side by side. They don't want trouble and there are rarely disputes."
Polish, Slovenian and Lithuanian girls make up the vast majority of foreign prostitutes working here.
They work in six to twelve months stints, then return to their homelands with money to invest or save.
According to gardai, they work in small brothel units in many major apartment complexes around the city centre and can vacate the flats within minutes if required.
"They are fairly basic. Mostly you will find a two bedroom apartment being used in a complex that would be well known so that punters can find them," a senior officer said.
"They usually operate for a few weeks before we start getting complaints about the comings and goings. Then they will close up and rent out a new apartment within days. They are very resilient and just keep coming back."
Dublin prices have soared in recent years and investigations have found that punters now pay an average €130 per half hour.
Most brothels offer "high class" hookers at €400 an hour and are raking in the cash at weekends.
Officers have discovered that there is also a lunchtime rush with executives and businessmen pouring into brothels all over the city.
"The busiest times are still Friday and Saturday night but lunch-hour during the week is extremely busy as well," said the detective superintendent.
"They usually open up around 11am on time for lunch and will close up around midnight or keep going until the early hours if the punters keep coming.
"It is hard to estimate how much they are pulling in per day but the pimps earn 50 per cent of the takings. Some days they could be open all day and have just one or two clients but other days they could be very, very busy."
One recent raid on a brothel following a busy Sunday, netted €10,000 in takings which had been earned by four Eastern European girls. Other police raids have seen between €2,000 and €5,000 confiscated.
Operation Quest have also investigated a number of lap dancing clubs but say they have found no breaches of the law within that industry and no exploitation.
"Again the girls are here willingly and it is their choice to work in the business: they are earning a lot of money. They seem to be very happy doing what they are doing. They are not breaking any criminal laws. Obviously prostitution is morally wrong but there are no laws being broken because the girls aren't soliciting sex on the streets," said McKeown.
He believes that Ireland should consider making prostitution legal and monitoring it properly.
"We do not go after the girls - we wouldn't even consider doing that. It is the organisers that we are interested in," he said. "But the fact is that prostitution is here to stay and perhaps it is time that our legislators started to consider making it legal and getting a proper handle on it. Of course that would mean that taxes would have to be paid and maybe Dublin wouldn't be as lucrative a place to work."
The government will shortly set up a task force to decide how best to regulate and tax the proceeds of this burgeoning multi- million euro sex industry. Mr Ahern expressed concern at the considerable loss of revenue to the state while the industry continues in its "underground" form.
Martin Cullen and his companion Stephanie O'Hara will travel abroad next month on a fact finding mission to the Red Light districts in Bangkok and other parts of Thailand, which attract millions of big spending tourists from overseas every year.
Mr Cullen said " We are rolling out grants for our golfcourse owner cronies shortly, in order to facilitate the building of legitimate,state-of-the-art, fully supervised brothels." "They will form part of a tremendously enhanced experience for visitors" he added. "This is a new and exciting concept for the hospitality sector in Ireland.I will shortly present enabling legislation before the Dail to update our outmoded sex laws. These are exciting times for the tourist industry "
The Dept. of Trade & Enterprise expects the initiative to creat 20,000 new jobs countrywide.
In the Red Light Districts of Amsterdam you will find, on any given day, hundreds of girls offering sex for money. Nowhere else on earth are the women so straightforwardly on display, sitting sparingly attired on stools behind windows. Nowhere else except in the other main Dutch cities, because this conspicuous window prostitution is distinct to the Netherlands, as distinct as the habit that many of its residents have for living their lives behind open curtained windows.
For many hundreds of years prostitution has been tolerated, it's rarely been considered an offence. In 1996 the taxation of prostitutes was introduced. Since October 2000 window prostitution and brothels have the benefit of being fully legal businesses. This was intended to enhance conditions, decrease crime, and intensify regulation. While prostitutes are now obliged to pay taxes, not many of them will say that this is a benefit, and some businesses, most notoriously banks, have declined to accord prostitutes such things as mortgages and business bank accounts!
Amsterdam's main Red Light District, known locally as the Walletjes, or Wallen (little walls), or generically as Rossebuurt (red or pink neighbourhood), is situated along and around two of the city's oldest canals, the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, the Oudezijds Voorburgwal (collectively known as the Burgwallen), and around the Oudekerkplein, in an area bounded by the Warmoestraat and the Nieuwmarkt. It's a place where prostitutes, clergy, kids, junkies, residents and cops all interact with social gezellig and titillated tourists gasp, "Isn't it all so shocking?"
There are three Red Light Districts in Amsterdam. The main area, the Walletjes, and two minor, Singel and Pijp. Additionally a tippelzone (pick-up area) was (until Nov, 2003) maintained for automobile bound clientele. Utrecht, about 30 minutes by train from Amsterdam has it's canal boat based scene, Den Haag has a spiffy modern shopping mall, Rotterdam does not have an RLD, but numerous clubs and private houses (privehuizen). In many smaller cities you also find the RLDs. These are, of course smaller, but have their charms, as they are less "touristy" and more relaxed. Smaller cities that have RLD’s are, for example, Groningen and Alkmaar. We particularly enjoy Alkmaar, a pleasant little market town with a cosy little Red Light District.
A 63-year-old man who ran five city-centre brothels has been sentenced to two years in prison and fined €40,000 at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today.(May 17-2007)
Former cruise-ship chef Paul Humphreys, a native of Cork city centre but now residing in Cyprus, was estimated to have earned as much as €780,000 a year from the proceeds of the brothels, prosecuting counsel, told Judge Frank O'Donnell.
Judge O'Donnell heard that bank accounts in Cyprus have been frozen and proceedings are underway for the sequestration of Humphreys' other assets.
Humphreys, with an address at Harty Court, Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin 1, pleaded guilty to knowingly allowing premises to be used for the purpose of prostitution between August 31st 2005 and March 26th 2006.
The court heard that when gardaí arrived to arrest Humphreys they found him in his kitchen counting stacks of money - totalling €30,000 - and tallying it against several worksheets.
Further sums were found in various places in the brothels, making a total of €41,646 recovered during the operation. When gardaí raided the premises, as part of the investigation arising out of Operation Quest, they found meticulous records of money taken and the number of clients.
Gardaí gave evidence that the brothels were staffed by anything up to five girls at one time on a shift basis. There were two shifts a day. The girls were mainly from Eastern Europe and charged €150 for a half hour and €250 for a full hour, of which they were allowed to keep half.
In one ten hour shift over two brothels, there were 47 clients who brought in a total of €8,730, the court was told.
A call centre took the bookings from 10 different mobile numbers, advertised on various websites.
Humphreys would tell prospective landlords he was a property developer from Cyprus who needed an Irish base and when the deal was done, the premises would be used solely as a brothel.
Humphreys' defence counsel said he had no involvement with human trafficking and did not employ underage girls or those with a specific vulnerability. The premises were clean and well maintained, the girls were paid in full according to the terms agreed and nobody had a complaint about Humphreys' personal behaviour at any time during the investigation, his lawyers said.
The court was told Humphreys came from a good family and that there was nothing in his past that would lead him towards this kind of activity.
Judge O'Donnell said he disagreed with the maximum fine allowable compared with the amount of money Humphreys would have made. "It is wrong that he should be walking away with a lot of money in his pocket."
He backdated the start of the two year sentence to the date of his arrest and suspended the remaining portion of the sentence pending payment of the €40,000 fine.
PUBLISHER Mike Hogan became a 'broken man' after he was prosecuted for advertising brothels and prostitutes in his magazine 'In Dublin'.
Friends say that the once-gregarious businessman became disillusioned and distant after the scandal set in motion the collapse of his publishing empire.
They say he was deeply affected by police questioning prior to his conviction and fine of £50,000 (about €63,500) in 2000.
A documentary shown on RTE about the rise and fall of Hogan reveals how he is back in business in Jamaica where he is selling ring tones and involved in reality television.
But pals say his entire personality changed after the investigation which found he earned £400,000 (€508,000) a year from six pages of advertisements in his magazines.
Although he put a brave face on in public and continued to flash cash in the years after the scandal, the documentary claims that he could not even afford to pay for a newspaper and financial conditions behind closed doors at his publishing empire were dire.
Theres a lot of Fianna Fail party pimps out there too, and nobody bothers to break them.!
It claims that the loss of revenue he had made from pimps and prostitutes left him so broke that he could not even pay to get the computers fixed.
Former 'In Dublin' advertisings sales manager Niall Kehoe says that Hogan, who had been like an ebullient daddy at this company, turned from an energetic whirlwind to a ‘broken man‘ following the scandal.
Following the scandal, which saw large contractors pulling out of his company, Hoson, due to their links with prostitution, he changed completely.
"He became very disillusioned and the atmosphere changed from a happy family to one where the father was clearly in trouble and nobody could help."
Hogan was just 38 when his meteoric rise to the top of Irish publishing was blown apart.
The Athy-born businessman started out working in pirate radio. His high profile marriage to former top model turned public relations guru Mari O'Leary was one of the social events of the year.
By then he had moved out of commercial radio and built up a stable of 38 titles in his empire but was keeping many afloat from the cash he was paid every weekend by pimps and prostitutes who advertised their wares in 'In Dublin'.
When a Garda investigation was launched into his links with the business, he ended up before the courts, where his magazine was banned from running the adverts in 1999 and he was fined and convicted a year later.
Former 'Magill' Editor John Waters says that after Hogan settled his tax bill, the gravity of the situation hit him.
"He settled his tax exposure and walked away, but not completely unscathed. His experience of being interrogated by the police affected him deeply. Having to take off his shoes to have them searched had a profound effect on him."But the full effects of the ban behind the scenes at the Hoson offices has now been revealed in the documentary, which shows how he desperately tried to hang on to his business. Another former 'Magill' Editor Kevin Rafter says he went to work for Hogan in 2001 and soon realised how bad things were as they could not even pay for computer repairs.
A libel case against 'Magill' by Mary Harney was the final blow to the publishing stable.By 2003 the facade was crumbling and as Hogan settled a tax bill for over €1 million his company collapsed with losses of €1 million.
21 November 2006
City wide garda raids target Cork’s sex industry. (Can we not just legalize and tax it.?)
By Eoin English and Sean O’Riordan (The Examiner)
THE Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) homed in on a kingpin in Cork’s sex industry in November 2006, as 100 gardaí swooped on massage parlours, lap-dancing clubs and sex shops across the city as part of a major investigation into money laundering.
The series of coordinated raids began shortly after 8am and continued throughout the day. A total of 17 private and commercial premises across the city were targeted.
At least three of the premises are owned by the same individual. Teams of detectives from CAB and backed up by Cork officers raided at least two sex shops which they discovered were fronts for upstairs massage parlours.
It is understood the investigation is focusing on human trafficking and prostitution. They also swooped on one of the city’s busiest lap-dancing clubs.
They seized substantial amounts of cash, bundles of documents, video-tapes and DVDs from a number of the premises. Some of the premises were closed forseveral hours yesterday after the raids but many of the sex shops reopened last evening.
There were no arrests but a number of follow-up searches were continuing last night. The presence of large numbers of gardaí and ongoing surveillance is likely to seriously damage the businesses in the run-up to the busy Christmas period.
A CAB source said gardaí would be trawling through caseloads of seized documents in the coming days as part of a proceeds of crime investigation.
Forensic accountants are also expected to trawl the documents to examine tax compliance issues.
The raids were part of an ongoing investigation into serious crime in the city, he said.
A source close to the investigation denied speculation that the raids were linked to the suspected blackmailing of massage parlour clients in the city.
The man at the centre of the probe is believed to be in his early 50s and lives in a quiet village in the north Cork region.
He is understood to have been heavily involved in the sex industry for about 20 years. In that time, he is believed to have amassed a substantial fortune from the sex trade.
A number of his female workers are part-time and from Cork. However, in recent years the employees have come mostly from Eastern Europe.
IT may be the world's oldest profession, but prostitution in Dublin is thriving like never before, with sex on offer for all tastes, it has emerged in Jan 2007.( Meanwhile murder and robbery is the daily menu for the long suffering citizens of Dublin & other cities.)
Despite all these distractions for our boys in blue,Gardai in Dublin are finding time to crack down on a new wave of brothels being run by Eastern Europeans that have sprung up in the city centre in recent months, a six-week-long Sunday Independent investigation has revealed.
Most of the prostitution in the capital is happening in brothel apartments, which have flourished with the massive development of new properties in the capital in the past five years. Some of the brothels are well-run, sophisticated operations while others are more small-scale, Garda sources have said.
Since the EU accession in 2004, Dublin has been swamped by an influx of Eastern European prostitutes, responding to the increased demand, who are posing as escorts working out of brothel apartments around the city. The numbers of girls working as prostitutes in Ireland is now estimated to be well above 1,500.
To respond to this influx, a specialised unit has been set up at Store Street station and Operation Quest was launched. Under this operation, specialised detectives are monitoring the movement of these prostitutes and the brothels they are working out of throughout the city.
For example, one street that is being watched closely is Capel St, on the city's north side. In recent months, numerous apartment doorbells on the street were marked simply by a girl's name.
This weekend, however, many of those have been removed and replaced with less conspicuous name tags, but behind the closed doors, Dublin's indoor prostitution is as brisk as ever, according to Garda sources.
The apartments, many of which are above reputable businesses, are being used as brothels by pimps and their girls. Though posing as escorts, in almost all cases they will offer "full, kinky and wild sex" for the right price. For many, the going rate is now €200 euro for sex in the brothel, or €300 if the girl comes to you.
Up until recently, these escorts had placed ads in several Dublin-based magazines but after consultations with the Gardai, the ads were subsequently banned. Now most of the advertising for such brothels is done online.
The Sunday Independent rang a number of these escort agencies and in all cases was offered full sex. One such website, Irish Escorts Directory, claimed on its site that: "All monies exchanged between any of our advertising escorts and clients are for time and companionship only.
"Anything else that occurs is a matter of coincidence and choice between consenting adults. The owners of this site will co-operate fully with the authorities in cases of child or forced prostitution."
To illustrate how easy it is to get paid sex in Dublin, the Sunday Independent selected one Brazilian beauty who is based in Dublin 1. A call was placed at midday to her mobile phone and she said she was available within an hour. Everything from erotic massage to full sex - with or without condoms - and much more, was offered all for €150 for the first half-hour.
Once on the street in question, another call was placed and we were given the exact apartment location. Surprisingly, the building was an upmarket apartment block, in which many non-suspecting residents live quietly. The girl buzzed open the front door at 1.05pm and was standing waiting at her apartment. A very attractive tall girl presented herself and demanded the money upfront.
Without engaging any further, I made my apologies and left immediately. Puzzled, the girl accepted my apologies and I made my way out of the building five minutes after I entered.
Despite prostitution being illegal, Ireland has gained a reputation in recent years for being soft on trafficking. The lack of hard legislation against such movement of women and children has made the country very attractive to those controlling the women and the brothels.
Even Gardai working in Dublin have admitted that the system is failing to adequately deal with the expanding illegal industry.
One Garda said most of the time, people are let away with a "slap on the wrist", and the soliciting offences equate to no more than a public order violation which most people "buy their way out of".
Ruhama, the charity which works with women in prostitution, said the nature of the profession in Ireland has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, particularly in the sophistication of the trafficking of vulnerable women into Ireland.
Geraldine Rowley of Ruhama said: "There has been a dramatic shift in the profile of prostitution in Ireland in the last 10 years. A decade ago, there was virtually no foreign prostitutes working in Ireland. Now that situation is very different.
"Almost 90 per cent of those operating in indoor prostitution are foreigners, with many of them coming from Eastern Europe, Brazil and other poor nations. Increasingly we are coming across very sophisticated, organised trafficking rackets.
"Ireland is the only country not to have anti-trafficking legislation and the message being sent out to these pimps is that Ireland is a soft touch. For them it is without question a high-profit/low-risk business at the moment."
Ireland only has one vice unit, which is based in Dublin's Store Street. They opened Operation Quest to tackle the problem in 2004, but Ruhama said it is totally lacking in resources both in terms of personnel and legislation.
According to Ruhama, Lithuania is one country where high numbers of trafficked women have come from. Due to the high degree of poverty, many women there are vulnerable and slip into prostitution, and are brought to Ireland to work in the sex trade. Many women from other countries are "naturally more vulnerable and easier to manipulate".
A sample ad for an "escort" on a leading Irish escort website reads:
Message: Hello gentlemen, I'm very hot Brazilian girl, I have look barbie, very sweet and I like give pleasure.
Come meet me for wonderful time!!!!!!!
Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian
Favourites: Deep Throat, Domination, Face Sitting, Foot Fetish, Lap Dancing, Massage, Reverse Oral, Sex Toys, Spanking, Strap-On, Uniforms, Watersports.
Hit the 'johns' not the girls.?
Written by Copyright © Marie De Santis,
|Thursday, 15 March 2007|
In a centuries deep sea of clichés despairing that 'prostitution will always be with us', one country's success stands out as a solitary beacon lighting the way. In just five years Sweden has dramatically reduced the number of its women in prostitution.
In the capital city of Stockholm the number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by two thirds, and the number of johns has been reduced by 80%. There are other major Swedish cities where street prostitution has all but disappeared. Gone too, for the most part, are the renowned Swedish brothels and massage parlors which proliferated during the last three decades of the twentieth century when prostitution in Sweden was legal.
In addition, the number of foreign women now being trafficked into Sweden for sex is nil. The Swedish government estimates that in the last few years only 200 to 400 women and girls have been annually sex trafficked into Sweden, a figure that's negligible compared to the 15,000 to 17,000 females yearly sex trafficked into neighboring Finland. No other country, nor any other social experiment, has come anywhere near Sweden's promising results.
By what complex formula has Sweden managed this feat? Amazingly, Sweden's strategy isn't complex at all. It's tenets, in fact, seem so simple and so firmly anchored in common sense as to immediately spark the question, "Why hasn't anyone tried this before?"
Sweden's Groundbreaking 1999 Legislation
By Michael Brennan Political Correspondent(Irish Independent)
Saturday October 20 2007
THE NUMBER of sex offenders being monitored by gardai has more than tripled to over 1,000 over the past four years.
There are 1,069 persons subject to the requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 2001, including 112 offenders who are under post-release supervision by the Probation Service.
About 257 sex offenders are serving sentences in eight prisons across the country, with the majority in Arbour Hill in Dublin (84), the Midlands Prison (70) and Wheatfield (68). Another 34 are in custody awaiting trial.
Fine Gael spokesman on children Alan Shatter, who obtained the information in a Dail question, said he was concerned about the re-offending risk due to lack of proper counselling.
"I raised this before the 2002 election and one of the difficulties was there was only a facility to provide treatment for eight offenders per year. That is still the same position."
The Dublin South TD also said that Justice Minister Brian Lenihan's claim that it was not possible "to quantify with absolute accuracy participation in all forms of rehabilitation" was "absolutely mind-boggling".
"You would think there would be very precise records but they don't actually know."
According to the figures supplied, there are just 13 psychologists for the a prison population of more than 3,000.
But there is an even bigger problem with the 11-month group therapy programme for sex offenders, which can deal with eight at a time.
It currently has no waiting-list, even though many of the sex offenders in prison have not taken part.
Mr Lenihan admitted it was a matter for concern that the number of offenders applying had declined in recent years. But he had been advised by the prison service that offenders could not be forced to participate. "Otherwise, the key elements of the programme concerned with supporting the offender in taking responsibility for his offending behaviour and in developing a comprehensive plan for a non-offending lifestyle in the future will not succeed."
As a solicitor with his law firm, Mr Shatter was involved in the first civil action against Fr Ivan Payne, who was later sentenced to six years in jail for sexually abusing young boys.
"I'm very angry because it's blindingly obvious that the services that should be there aren't there. It's unfair to the victims and to the community that the state isn't carrying out its obligations to prevent the possibility of sex offenders re-offending."
He said that while he was not naive enough to believe that treatment courses would prevent every sex offender from re-offending, research had shown how they could make them less likely to re-offend.
Last year, the Oireachtas Committee on Child Protection recommended reviewing the possibility of reducing sentences and providing temporary release for offenders, so they would have more incentive to take up treatment programmes.
It also called for a comprehensive treatment programme for offenders which would begin on their conviction and continue after their release.
- Michael Brennan Political Correspondent
By Michael Brennan Political Correspondent
Thursday December 06 2007
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has admitted that action needs to be taken to deal with the situation in which some 36,000 people are said to be evading bench warrants for their arrest.
The scandal was highlighted in a number of recent serious crimes, including the house party shooting of Donna Cleary, whose suspected killer was the subject of a bench warrant.
During leader's questions in the Dail yesterday, Mr Ahern accepted that the system needed to be tightened up.
However, he said he found it hard to imagine that there were 36,000 outstanding bench warrants, which are issued by judges when a defendant or witness fails to turn up in court.
"While I do not know the total figure for people who have evaded the system, I imagine it is small," he said.
Labour party leader Eamon Gilmore said the figure of 36,000 had been obtained from the garda computer system on November 25. He added that there were 111,453 outstanding warrants in total, which was "equivalent to the population of a large five seat constituency".
This included 4,000 committal warrants issued by judges to allow gardai arrest convicted offenders who should be in prison, he said.
"I would like an explanation as to why these people are not being arrested."
Mr Ahern rejected the suggestion that a significant number of people never turned up in court on foot of bench warrants.
"Some of the cases would relate to people for whom a warrant was issued and they either forgot about it or were sick," he said.
In many cases, those with outstanding bench warrants are arrested for another offence or their offence related to the failure to pay a court fine, he added.
He also rejected a suggestion by the Labour party that social welfare offices notify gardai when a person with an outstanding bench warrant turns up to collect a payment.
He said debt collectors were being used to retrieve court fines under a pilot project, and that the Fines Bill -- before the Dail -- would further reduce pressure on the system by allowing people to pay fines in instalments.
- Michael Brennan Political Correspondent