The skipper of a fishing vessel that was raided during a Garda investigation into suspected labour exploitation in the fishing industry pleaded guilty to employing two foreign nationals without an employment permit.
Patrick Mulvaney of Pollagh, Keel, Achill, skipper of fishing trawler ‘Krystal Patrick’, pleaded guilty to the charges that came before Achill District Court last week. Mr Mulvaney was not present in court, as he had to travel to the UK because one of his a crew members suffered a serious accident, and he was excused from the hearing.
The court heard that as part of Operation Egg Shell – an operation coordinated by An Garda Síochána, the Revenue Commissioners, The Workplace Relations Commission Inspectorate, The Irish Navy and The Sea Fisheries Protection Authority – fishing vessels were inspected in Castletownbere, Co Cork, on October 5, 2016.
The ‘Krystal Patrick’, a 13-metre fishing vessel skippered by Mr Mulvaney was inspected, and two Filipino men were on board. One of the men had an employment permit to work on another boat, and the other man did not have any permit to work in the country.
Mr James Reilly, an Inspector with the Workplace Relations Commission, said that he met Mr Mulvaney on the docks and that he was cooperative. He claimed Mr Mulvaney said that one of the crewmen had left another boat due to poor working conditions and that he was trying to sort out his permit.
Mr Bob McArdle, solicitor for Mr Mulvaney, said the two crew men were so terrified by the experience that they had ‘packed their bags’ and were no longer in Mr Mulvaney’s employment. He said that his current crew were all EU nationals.
The court heard Mr Mulvaney, the primary shareholder in the company that owns the boat, has no previous convictions.
Judge Mary Devins said she was hesitant to impose penalties without Mr Mulvaney being present, and she adjourned sentencing until January 11.