Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Potato Picking Workers.

Wednesday, 7 July 1971

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 255 No. 5

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12.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen 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: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. 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: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Is the Minister aware that it has been admitted——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy may not make speeches. Has the Deputy a question to put?

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen 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 [797] 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: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. 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: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Would the Minister not——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  I am calling Question No. 13. We cannot discuss this matter all day.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen 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——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  The Deputy may not make another speech. He may not continue making speeches. Will the Deputy please sit down?

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Will the Minister ensure that steps will be taken to see that these people will no longer be allowed to operate?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  I understand the British authorities are fully aware of the situation and at the moment, because of our stimulation, are considering what can be done to remedy the position.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  Would the Minister——

[798]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Would Deputy Coughlan please resume his seat? He may not monopolise Question Time.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  This is a matter that arises in another administration.

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan  Zoom on Stephen Coughlan  But the workers are being hijacked out of Ireland.

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  Have any officials of the Department visited these fields?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  Indeed they have and there has been intervention by the Irish Embassy with the authorities in Scotland on this matter.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Coogan: Information on Fintan Coogan  Zoom on Fintan Coogan  By personal visits?

Mr. B. Lenihan: Information on Patrick J. Lenihan  Zoom on Patrick J. Lenihan  And detailed reports which we have to hand on the whole matter.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Harte: Information on Patrick D. Harte  Zoom on Patrick D. Harte  If it were not for Father Cassidy and Father Walsh you would not know what was going on there at all.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Cormac Breslin  Zoom on Cormac Breslin  Order. Would the Minister answer Question No. 13?


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