The Government is fully committed to combatting human trafficking and to working to identify and support victims of this terrible crime.
I am informed that all accusations of human trafficking in the fishery industry here are fully investigated by An Garda Síochána and files submitted to the DPP. As the Deputy will be aware, independent decisions on prosecution are made by the DPP on the basis of evidence. I am informed by An Garda Síochána that no evidence to support any of the accusations made by the organisation concerned has been found.
As the Deputy is aware, the DPP is independent of Government and indeed of An Garda Síochána and its decisions are made on the basis of evidence. A prosecution cannot be taken where there is a visible lack of evidence to support the contention that trafficking occurred.
I am also informed that the Workplace Relations Commission, which provides the machinery via which victims of labour exploitation can seek redress, regardless of whether the exploitation is in the context of human trafficking or not, has also confirmed that it has found no evidence to support any of the accusations made. The WRC are very active in monitoring and inspecting conditions in the fishing industry and have found no evidence to support any accusations made by the organisation concerned.
My Department officials have had extensive correspondence with the organisation concerned and have made offers of a meeting – these offers have not been responded to. The offer remains open. I would like to stress the point that the distinction between labour exploitation and human trafficking (forced labour) is a very important one, and the integrity of this distinction in Irish and international law must be understood and appreciated by any non-statutory body that seeks to develop a collaborative relationship with the Department on our efforts to tackle human trafficking.
The Delphi Indicators were developed under the auspices of the International Labour Organisation of which Ireland is an active member. The fact remains that the organisation concerned has made numerous accusations of human trafficking that have not stood up to examination.