Skippers deny two migrant fishermen were mistreated
Two Irish fishermen insisted they were assured by an overseas shipping agent that Filipino sailors would be in full compliance with regulations.
Pat O'Mahony (51) and Leonard Hyde (63) both also told Cork District Court the Filipino duo were treated with every consideration and respect on the 'Labardie Fisher'.
The trawler operators said they entered a contract with Diamond Marine for the supply of the two Filipino fishermen for a monthly fee of $1,075 each.
"We couldn't get any Irish staff," Mr O'Mahony told gardaí. "There are 90pc of the Irish boats . . . who cannot get enough Irish staff."
In statements to gardaí, Mr Hyde said Filipino national Demie Balbin Omol (40) got seriously ill just six weeks after arriving in Ireland.
While the man was in hospital, he was visited, provided with cash, phone credit and even pyjamas.
Both men also insisted the Filipinos were provided with whatever food they liked, cash for groceries and sundries, phone credit, wifi, TV and regular time off. Both also had full control of their own passports and could leave the trawler at any time when berthed in Cork.
The fishermen have denied charges before Cork District Court lodged following a Garda investigation into the use of migrant or non-EU workers within the Irish fishing industry. Mr O'Mahony, of Eltin's Wood, Kinsale, and Mr Hyde of Four Winds, Weaver's Point, Crosshaven, denied before Judge Aingeal Ní Chondúin a charge of knowingly facilitating the entry into the State on March 25, 2015, of a person whom they knew or had reasonable cause to believe was an illegal immigrant or a person who intended applying for asylum.
They also deny employing a foreign national at Hugh Coveney Pier in Crosshaven on October 5, 2015, without having an employment permit issued by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
More than 30 Irish fishermen attended the court hearing to support the two defendants.
Judge Ní Chondúin warned she had no option but to adjourn given the pressures on the court list.
"I have to take public safety into account (because of possible over-crowding)," she said.
Judge Ní Chondúin adjourned the case until March 8.