PQ: Human Trafficking (Fishing Industry 2)

Tue, November 10, 2015

230. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the position regarding the inter-departmental working group on allegations of trafficking migrant workers in the fishing industry; when he expects a report from this group; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

241. Deputy John Browne asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on reports regarding the possible maltreatment of migrant workers in the fishing industry; the steps he is taking to ascertain if this is taking place; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

269. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he has asked An Garda Síochána to investigate disturbing allegations in a newspaper (details supplied) of abuse and maltreatment of allegedly trafficked migrant workers in the fishing industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

270. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on the report in a newspaper (details supplied) that the International Transport Workers Federation has alleged that the Government is turning a blind eye to the abuse of trafficked migrant workers in the fishing industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

274. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he will take in response to the breach of migrant workers’ rights in the fishing industry (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.

276. Deputy Ruth Coppinger asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine his views on reports of widespread abuse of workers’ rights and terms and conditions in the fishing industry; the steps he will take to deal with this; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 230, 241, 269, 270, 274 and 276 together.

The Government is very concerned about the allegations regarding the treatment of workers on Irish fishing trawlers. Following a decision taken at Cabinet on Tuesday 3rd November, it was decided to immediately establish an inter-departmental Task Force to examine the wide range of issues identified in the recent Guardian newspaper report and make recommendations on appropriate actions, based on a cross Governmental approach. I chaired the first meeting of the Task Force on Thursday 5th November and my colleague Minister of State , Ged Nash, from the Department of Jobs, Employment and Innovation also attended the meeting.

Due to the complex nature of the issues arising, the Task Force includes high level representatives from the Departments of, Justice and Equality, Jobs Enterprise & Innovation, Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Attorney Generals office, An Garda Síochána, BIM, the Naval Service, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority and my own Department.

In order to formulate the most appropriate and effective response, it is necessary to first establish a full understanding of the complex issues involved. At the first meeting of the Task Force, the State Authorities shared information on their individual remits and experiences and committed to producing a co-ordinated response. The meeting considered the complex issues arising from the Guardian article and among the key issues also discussed were information sharing, enforcement, permitting, licensing, exploitation, and trafficking.

As Minister with responsibility for chairing this cross Departmental Task Force, my main focus will be, to bring forward to Government a joined up State response in relation to the issues identified. Where appropriate, I consider that we need to take robust and proportionate immediate actions including any medium term changes to the regulatory and enforcement frameworks of the State.

The next meeting has been arranged for Thursday 12th November and I have invited a number of stakeholders to address the Taskforce.

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