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Saturday 1 October 2016

Case study: 'A few bad eggs are causing these problems - it's not on a grand scale'

Published 04/11/2015 | 02:30

Seamus O’Flaherty, who runs Saltees Fish in Kilmore Quay, Wexford, with his brothers says the problems exists but insists that they are limited
Seamus O’Flaherty, who runs Saltees Fish in Kilmore Quay, Wexford, with his brothers says the problems exists but insists that they are limited

The owner of one of Ireland's biggest fishing fleets has said concerns surrounding the mistreatment of foreign workers on Irish fishing boats are caused by a "small number of bad eggs".

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Seamus O'Flaherty, who runs Saltees Fish in Kilmore Quay, Wexford, with his brothers says the problems exists but insists that they are limited.

The trawlerman says that most foreign workers, who mainly come from Egypt and Indonesia are "highly skilled seamen who often move from place to place".

"If people trafficking exists in the Irish fishing industry it is on a very small scale," he said. "I'm not saying it doesn't - but if it does it is caused by a very small number of bad eggs.

"As it stands it is very difficult to find Irish people who want this type of work. It is even harder to find reliable Irish workers who won't let you down the morning you are due to go out to sea.

"But I can assure you any foreign person who I have come across gets treated the very same way as an Irish fisherman," he added.

"Skippers will not put an inexperienced man on the deck of a boat. They would be a liability. They need to be able to tie knots, handle nets and know what do to do in rough seas. This is not an easy job and anyone getting into it knows that.

"I have heard reports saying that some foreign workers have said they have been forced to work while Irish workers are asleep and things. In my experience when people are on a boat, no matter what nationality, they are all in it together," added Mr O'Flathery.

The experienced seaman, whose company controls over 15-vessels, says that the majority of workers both Irish and from elsewhere, are paid a share based on the catch and said contracts are extremely rare.

"There are a lot of problems in the fishing industry, and these claims are very serious, but there are bigger problems," he said.

Irish Independent

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