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Government needs to at least double number of work permits for migrant fisheries workers - Ní Riada

25 November, 2015 - by Liadh Ní Riada MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called for the number of work permits being offered to migrant workers in the sector to be doubled to at least 1,000.

Speaking following similar calls made by the Irish Fish Producers' Organisation and the Nasc immigrant support centre, Ní Riada said:

"I would echo the calls made by fishing industry representatives for at least 1,000 work permits to be issued. It is vital that we offer this protection to migrant worker within the Irish fishing industry.

"From what fishermen have been saying, 500 permits will not be sufficient and as the new permit scheme only covers trawlers above 15 metres in length, it ignores the fact that there are migrants workers aboard smaller vessels. As a result, under the new scheme, these fishermen will not be covered.

"No work permits have been issued since 2005, and the International Transport Workers Federation has stated that there has been up to 8,000 migrant workers involved in the industry, many of them undocumented and without training.

A member of the European Parliament Committee on Fisheries, Ní Riada continues,

“I support the recommendation made by Nasc that a sectoral work permit scheme be introduced to ensure that the recruitment of non-EU workers is regulated in future and that they are afforded the same protections as EU workers."

"The fact that it took a year-long investigation by The Guardian to expose the abuse of trafficked workers in the Irish fishing industry, rather than our own government and authorities, who either turned a blind eye or were completely unaware, is a national embarrassment.

“While the Irish government hinders fishermen in trying to make a living through heavy-handed regulation, boarding at sea and inspections, it ignores the plight of exploited workers in the sector. Its clear that for all its regulations and policing, the Irish government has no interest in the well-being of fishermen, regardless of their nationality." ENDS 

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