TODAY the Irish Independent brings the profoundly shocking news that foreign diplomats here are suspected of the most shameful exploitation of domestic workers.
The issue poses serious obstacles for gardai – there is the time-honoured diplomatic immunity, the turnover of diplomatic personnel and other difficulties in gathering evidence that would stand up in a court of law.
One victim told us she came to Ireland to work as a child-minder for a foreign diplomat in Dublin. Promises of a wage and opportunities to study were not delivered upon, and she worked 17 hours a day while being kept a virtual prisoner in the house.
Such stories amount to a total affront to human dignity and cannot be tolerated in the Ireland of 2013.
We are encouraged to learn that the Department of Foreign Affairs is working on a code of conduct for foreign diplomats to moderate their dealings with domestic staff. This code would include written contracts, records of wages paid and an opportunity for officials from the National Employment Rights Authority to speak with staff suspected of being ill-treated.
Part of the package under consideration includes the prospect of revoking diplomatic status in cases where employment rights are not respected. The Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland sees merit in such a move, believing it could offer some protection to vulnerable people. All of us will hope that there will soon be progress in this most urgent matter.