Press Centre

Migrant Rights Centre Ireland meets with Government taskforce on situation of undocumented migrant fishermen

Representatives from the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI), joined by a Filipino fisherman who has worked undocumented in Ireland for the last five years, addressed the new interdepartmental taskforce today (Thursday 12th November).

Speaking following the meeting, Edel McGinley, MRCI Director said “regularisation would be an important step to tackle exploitation in the fishing industry and strengthen workers’ rights. Unfortunately, this issue is not confined to the fishing industry but persists across many low wage sectors such as domestic work, care work and the restaurant industry.”

The MRCI welcomed reported moves by Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine Simon Coveney and the Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald to regularise undocumented migrant fisherman. To comprehensively tackle this abuse of workers, the MRCI is calling for the introduction of a broader regularisation scheme to address exploitation in all precarious sectors of the Irish labour market.

Ms McGinley went on say “Like the Irish undocumented in the USA, undocumented migrants are part of the fabric of Irish life, many working and living in our communities long term - some for over fifteen years. Clearly there is a need for a broad-based regularisation which complements the sectoral approach being proposed.”

At the meeting today with the Taskforce, the MRCI made a number of recommendations:

  • Introduce a sector-based regularisation with clear criteria, granting access to employment in the fishing industry without a work permit
  • Establish a sectoral agreement for the fishing industry, setting out terms and conditions for workers
  • Suspend the practice of spot checks targeting vulnerable workers, pending the introduction of a regularisation
  • Invest greater resources to step up inspections and ensure compliance in the sector
  • Allocate resources through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to focus on the protection of workers in the industry
  • Ratify ILO Work in Fishing Convention 188
  • Conduct intelligence-led investigations into human trafficking routes and recruitment practices
  • Introduce a system for swift identification of and protection for victims of trafficking



Migrant Rights Centre Ireland (MRCI) has worked with undocumented migrants, with victims of trafficking for forced labour and exploited migrant workers in domestic work and care, in fisheries, cleaning, agriculture, restaurants and car washes, since its establishment in 2001. The MRCI has provided support to hundreds of undocumented migrant fishermen and is currently handling 17 cases.

The MRCI has carried out extensive research with undocumented migrants in Ireland.

Key findings: of 540 undocumented migrants surveyed

– 81% have been here for 5 years or more

– 21% have been here for 10 years or more

– 87% are working

– 44% are parents

– 53% have 3rd-level education

– people of 29 different nationalities were surveyed, but the top 5 were Filipino, Chinese, Mauritian, Brazilian and Pakistani.

– 86.5% entered the country legally and subsequently became undocumented

‘Ireland is Home’ survey infographic:

‘Ireland is Home’ policy paper: