Allegations made by Paul Murphy TD from Pb4P of modern-day slavery in the Irish fishing industry was slammed at the Dublin Demo on Wednesday
The Irish fishing industry does not take part in any modern-day slavery practices, was one of the messages from last Wednesday’s demonstration in Dublin.
Last week, People before Profit TD, Paul Murphy used his Dáil privileges to slander the Irish fishing industry accusing boat owners and skippers of using and abusing migrant workers from non-EAA countries. The action has been called both ill-informed and cowardly, and has ben widely condemned by the industry itself and by numerous migrant workers working in the Irish fishing industry.
In his Dáil statement, the Dublin Southwest representative went on an unsupported tirade against the industry saying, We have horrific exploitation taking place based in this country. The kind of horror stories that you hear.
“Effective human trafficking of migrant workers into this country on boats, working extremely long hours, in extremely dangerous conditions, working overnight day-after-day-after-day with no protection in terms of health and safety. Suffering injuries in many cases and for many of these fishers, the way it comes to an end, is that they suffer a significant injury, and they are no longer able to continue. And then that is them, they are off the boat. The owner of the boat doesn’t care aboutthem anymore. It’s an absolute scandal and it continues to happen in this country.”
On Wednesday, this statement was denied by John Tattan from Tattan Trawlers, Ballycotton, Co Cork who laid the blame for the current situation of migrant workers firmly at the door of the Irish Government. By not recognising fishing as a critical occupation, it means that fishers are not on the Critical Occupations List, and therefore non-EAA workers in the fishing industry do not qualify for the same protection afforded to non-EAA workers on the List.
He said, “The migrant workers scheme which covers non-EU workers must be reviewed to ensure an even playing pitch for all those in the A-typical food sector.
“The typical work scheme for non-EU fishers in the Irish fleet was implemented in February 2016, and from February to June that year, applicants were told that it was only open to non-EU members already present in Ireland, giving them the opportunity to legalise their immigration status.
“2021 represented a landmark year for those crew members, many of whom had been working here in Ireland for many years since 2016. It marked the date that they had five-years of residency in Ireland and in the normal course of events would be entitled to apply for a Stamp 4, on the basis of non-residency.
“This is seen as the first step on the journey to citizenship and going for family reunification.
“You can imagine therefore the dismay and heartbreak, that after working five years with a stamp on that has been complied with every year, and the amount of the that was required for that was 1,825/6 days in that five-years.
“They were not entitled to a Stamp 4 on the grounds that the fishing business is not on the critical skills occupation. The ridiculous Critical Skills Occupations List is one that nurses, doctors etc, come under but unfortunately again, fishing was let down and fishing was not included in that.”
Mr Tattan called for the Government to recognise that fishing should be included on the Critical Skills Occupations List saying that it was important to give these migrant workers freedom to travel home to meet their families in their home countries without the threat of not being allowed to return to Ireland to their job.
He continued, “These workers are vital not only to ensure the survival of the fishing industry but also the seafood sector. Therefore, it is vital that the application process for these crew members to work legally in Ireland should be stipulated and reined.”
Demonstrators and attendees at the event also heard from Jerome from the Philippines who has been working in the Irish fishing industry for many years.
He said, “I just want the same rights as all the people here in Ireland and I am so very thankful that the industry is fighting for me, and not only for me, but for all Filipino fishermen here in Ireland.”
Patrick Murphy from the IS&WFPO said, “We did not design the A-typical scheme, but we have been lobbying since its creation to fix what is wrong with it. We need our government to listen to us to protect these lads.”
Cork Independent TD, and member of the Rural Ireland Group, Michael Collins called Paul Murphy’s statement, “Scandalous” and said, “I want to say to Paul Murphy and the Pb4P, or whoever they are, there’s no slaves in the Irish fishing industry and how dare he say there is.”
by Oliver McBride