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Harney has questions to answer regarding exploitation of migrant workers

27 April, 2004

Sinn Féin EU Candidate for the North West Constituency Pearse Doherty, has demanded that An Tánaiste Mary Harney T.D. explain why she failed to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers. Mr Doherty was speaking following the publication of the Prime Time Investigates Programme which showed that expoliation of migrant workers was widespread within the State.

Mr Doherty said:

"The Prime Time programme last night was a timely reminder of the failure of this Government and An Tánaiste in particular to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers in this State.

"This Government's lack of concern for the welfare of migrant workers is clear from their refusal to sign the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and their Families.

It is clear from their rejection of repeated demands from Sinn Fein and voluntary groups working with migrants, for work permits to be issued to the worker rather than the employer to prevent the type of bonded labour that was evident in many of the cases shown on last night's programme.

"An Tánaiste has also done nothing to address the problem of migrant workers being charged for their work permit by unscrupulous agencies. She is offering no assistance to workers who find, through no fault of their own, that they have been made illegal as a result of their employers failing or refusing to renew work permits or because they have been brought here under false pretences by agencies.

"My party colleague Arthur Morgan T.D. has questioned Mary Harney on this issue and has been told that she is unaware of any particular instances where workers are being charged for work permits. Deputy Morgan brought one of the instances referred to in the programe (involving the exploitation of South African workers) directly to the attention of An Tánaiste and her Department. Migrant workers are being exploited on a massive scale and the blame lies with the Tánaiste who has failed to make any effort to protect these vulnerable workers." ENDS

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