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Friday 14 December 2018

Unpaid farm worker lived in a steel container with no toilet or running water, court hears

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Declan Tierney

A North Galway farmer, who employed a Brazilian national to work on his land 16 hours a day, failed to pay the 47-year-old man, Tuam District Court was told this week.

The Brazilian worked on the farm for three months and during this time, he lived in squalor inside a steel container where there were no basic facilities like a toilet or even running water.

Farmer Thomas Killarney from Knockauncarragh, Ryehill, Monivea was before the court charged with employing a non-national without a permit. Killarney admitted the offence.

Prosecuting Sergeant Daithi Cronin told the court that the Brazilian national had called to the Garda Station in Tuam and complained that he had worked on the farm for three months and hadn’t got paid.

He told the Gardai that he would work 16 hours a day, seven days a week and during this time he lived in the steel container with no toilet facilities.

The Gardai became concerned about the complaint and Garda Frank Fahy carried out an investigation during when he spoke to farmer Thomas Killarney to said that he was not aware that he needed a permit to employ the particular individual.

The court was told that the Brazilian man was spoken to on a number of occasions by the Gardai and informed them that the arrangement with the farmer was to work for 16 hours and he was told that he would receive €60 payment per day.

“Even that’s below the minimum wage”, remarked Judge John King who said that he found it unacceptable that this man, who declined to come to court, was asked to work such hours.

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Defending solicitor Eoin Carty said that his client would dispute the number of hours that the Brazilian man claimed he had to work.

He went on to say that the defendant had €1,000 in court to discharge what was owed to the farm worker, who expressed a reluctance to come to court and give evidence.

Judge King said that he would not accept this money and, instead, decided to adjourn the case so that the prosecuting Gardai could establish what was owed to the injured party.

He instructed that a fair amount be agreed upon so that this can then be discharged to the Brazilian worker. He also asked that the views of the worker be established prior to the court sitting on December 11 when the compensation will have to be paid over to the injured party.

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