Republic of Ireland news

Trawler seized after fishermen trafficking claim

The Republic's Minister for Agriculture and Marine Simon Coveney

A FISHING boat was seized and gardaí have raided several premises as part of an investigation into allegations that migrants have been trafficked to work on Irish trawlers.

The boat was seized in the Irish Sea following claims earlier this month that men from Africa and Asia were being illegally brought to the Republic via London and Belfast airports.

The Guardian newspaper suggested workers were being smuggled across the border to bypass the Republic's immigration controls.

The men were allegedly deprived of sleep, verbally and physically abused, and made to hand over their passports to employers.

The Republic's government set up an inter-departmental taskforce to examine the claims.

Speaking ahead of the taskforce's second meeting yesterday, Minister for Agriculture and Marine Simon Coveney said he did not want a "witch hunt" of people who may be in the Republic illegally.

He said he wanted to set up a system which ensured that workers in the fishing industry are not exploited.

Many people in the industry are not employees but work for a share of the catch, meaning the existing work permit system is not applicable, he said.

Mr Coveney said he hoped the problem will be resolved by the end of the year.

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