Wednesday, 7 July 1971
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Coughlan: asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will ask the British authorities to refuse entry to Scotland to persons against whom there is evidence of intimidation and coercion in recruiting workers for potato picking in that country.
Mr. B. Lenihan: I am not convinced that to seek a ban on the entry into Scotland of certain persons engaged in contracting for potato picking would constitute a solution to the question of the Irish seasonal potato workers there. I feel that the best course is consultation and co-operation with the officials concerned in Scotland in order to ensure amelioration of the working conditions of these Irish workers. This is the course which I have adopted and is one which is in line with that suggested by the Deputy himself in Dáil Éireann on the 23rd June last.
Mr. Coughlan: I am not making a speech; I am asking a question, with all due respect. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has admitted here that there was intimidation and coercion by this family. It has been proved beyond yea or nay to everybody that these  people are not entitled to act in the way they are acting. Will the Minister now take steps to ensure, for the sake of the good name of the Irish people in Scotland and the working conditions of these people, that such persons will no longer be allowed to operate as they have been operating in the past in Scotland exploiting unfortunate people? This is what has been happening and the Minister knows that.
Mr. B. Lenihan: Surely the sensible approach is to stimulate the British authorities into remedying a situation which has the unfortunate results of which we are aware. This now seems to be the position. The British authorities are aware of the matter and are doing something about it and the sensible thing is to let them do it rather than have any blanket prohibition at this end which, in fact, would not work.
Mr. Coughlan: ——agree that these people must be chastised just as everybody who breaks the law must be. These people have been breaking the law and have been exploiting others for a number of years and——
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