Government concerned by human trafficking allegations

Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney, minister for agriculture, food and the marine

An Irish government minister has said he is “very concerned” about allegations of potential human trafficking made by the Guardian newspaper.

A year-long investigation conducted by the newspaper purported to turn up evidence of migrant workers in the Irish fishing industry being subjected to illegal practices and being paid less than the minimum wage.

In a statement, Simon Coveney, minister for agriculture, food and the marine, said he was worried about the “safety of the workers concerned”.

He added: “The Department of Justice has confirmed that a project led by An Garda Síochána has been established specifically to address concerns in relation to potential human trafficking in the maritime sector (including fishing).

“This project aims to provide a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach to the issue, involving a broad range of competent State Agencies (including relevant marine, immigration and employment rights authorities) and civil society organisations.”

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) will “co-operate in any way with this inter-agency project”, he added.

Grainne O’Toole of the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, speaking to RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland, called on ministers to introduce visa regularisation for trafficked workers.

Ms O’Toole also called on ministers to “ensure they are able to reclaim the wages owed to them”.

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