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Sunday 18 August 2019

'We're hurt by migrant work claims' - skipper's daughter

Boat skipper Michael Hayes
Boat skipper Michael Hayes

Ralph Riegel and Greg Harkin

The daughter of a skipper who died in a trawler tragedy has expressed outrage at it being unfairly linked to an exposé on the treatment of migrant workers.

Lia ní Aodha lost her father Michael Hayes (52) three years ago in the Tit Bonhomme trawler accident off west Cork.

She said recent allegations about treatment of migrants had caused "insurmountable hurt" to innocent families.

In an open letter, she claimed a series of articles by 'The Guardian' newspaper on migrant workers in the Irish fishing industry had caused enormous upset and hurt across all coastal communities.


"It would appear that this article was primarily concerned with exposure and gave little thought to the costs of such," she said.

"Well, it is my prerogative as an Irishwoman, a member of a fishing community and the daughter of a hard-working fisherman and woman - indeed, more specifically the daughter of the owners and skipper of the Tit Bonhomme (whose tragedy was exploited in the quest to demonstrate the validity of this story) - to refute these generalisations."

Ms ní Aodha said she "condemned the decision to use the 'Tit Bonhomme' as a case in point of the narrow story 'The Guardian' sought to spin and with which you sought to paint the entire Irish fishing industry".

The Tit Bonhomme sank on January 15, 2012 when it struck Adam Island at the entrance to Glandore Bay.

The steel-hulled vessel was torn apart by the force of the impact, with just one member of the six-strong crew, Egyptian national Abdou Mohamad (45), managing to scramble to safety.

The five fishermen who died included Mr Hayes, Kevin Kershaw (21) and three Egyptian fishermen: Wael Mohamad (32), Shaban Attia (26) and Saied aly Eldin (24).

Ms ní Aodha, who lives in Manchester, said incredible hurt was caused by the article, which has been slated by Irish fishing industry leaders. But 'The Guardian' said it stands over the material published.

Last night, an Irish trawler was detained for allegedly having an illegal crew on board.

The LÉ Orla detained the vessel in the Irish Sea after it was boarded for inspection during a routine fisheries protection patrol. The crew and vessel were escorted into Howth and met by gardaí and officials.

It is understood less than 10 crew were on board the trawler but the majority were Egyptian. Regulations state no more than 50pc of the crew can be non-EU.

Irish Independent

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