Migrant lorry tragedy exposes larger criminal organisation – Irish priest

Migrant lorry tragedy exposes larger criminal organisation – Irish priest Fr Sean Cassin
Fr Seán Cassin’s charity says debt and fear keeps worried families quiet


An Irish priest and anti-trafficking campaigner focused on Vietnam has said that the deaths of 39 people in a lorry in Essex is only the tip of the iceberg and the tragedy has exposed the inhumanity of the criminals and the desperation of the migrants.

Fr Sean Cassin OFM, the CEO of Dasatt, told The Irish Catholic, “it’s exposed the levels of organisation going on, it exposes the considerable numbers that aren’t recorded that are being trafficked”.

The charity were “inundated” with calls from “terrified” family members trying to figure out if a son or daughter was among the bodies last week, after the circumstances of the shocking deaths in Essex were revealed.


Fr Cassin, who has worked with Vietnamese people in Ireland and abroad for the past six years and speaks the language, said many of the families pay exorbitant amounts of money to traffickers so their son or daughter can live and work in Europe and send money home, but this can lead to dangerous situations.

“A lot of families don’t want it known even to neighbours that some of their young people are missing, this is even before the Essex disaster,” he said.

“They would be quite scared, they wouldn’t have reported to the police, because of the attention that would bring on them from traffickers. Also they often owe money to debtors, to loan sharks, so they don’t want it getting out that their son or daughter is missing and the funds won’t be forthcoming.”

Fr Cassin said families would “find it very frightening and very horrific” that people trafficked from Vietnam would be found in a trailer under the circumstances. “They would pay £20,000 to a trafficker to get their son or daughter to the UK, they have it in their heads they’re been flown in or going by ship, this notion of the container is quite a horrific spectacle for families to consider,” he added.

Speaking over the weekend Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland Eamon Martin encouraged people to “pray for those who have perished, for their loved ones, for all those caught up in this gruesome situation and for those who are called to respond”.

“Pope Francis has described human trafficking as ‘an open wound on the body of contemporary society – a scourge upon the body of Christ.’  Migrant smuggling and human trafficking feeds on the desperation of vulnerable people, many of whom are fleeing from violence or economic uncertainty,” he said.

He added the “horror of this discovery” should awaken people to the reality that human trafficking could be happening “right in front of us – in our own parish, in our own town”.