Tuesday, 13 July 2021

Questions (543, 544, 545, 546)

Mick Barry

Question:

543. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice further to Parliamentary Question No. 1135 of 15 June 2021, the breakdown by nationality of the 133 renewed approvals for the atypical work permit scheme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37340/21]

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Mick Barry

Question:

544. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice the breakdown by nationality of the atypical work permit approvals that expired without renewal from December 2019 to date. [37341/21]

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Mick Barry

Question:

545. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice the number of vessel owners since the atypical work permit scheme for non-EEA fishers commenced that have been barred from availing of the scheme arising from detected infringements on their part of the terms of the scheme or of the applicable rules of employment law; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37345/21]

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Mick Barry

Question:

546. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice if it is the policy of her Department to issue foreign nationals present in the State for five years on foot of permissions on stamp 1 conditions granted under the atypical working scheme for non-EEA crew in the Irish fishing fleet with permissions on stamp 4 conditions; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37351/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 543, 544, 545 and 546 together.

The Atypical Working Scheme, which commenced in February 2016, was established as a cross Departmental response to address the matter of non-EEA workers on certain categories of vessels in the Irish fishing fleet, who are not currently eligible for permission under the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) employment permit system. The Scheme provided, for the first time, a framework for the employment of non-EEA workers within defined segments of the Irish fishing fleet.  

The table below sets out the nationalities of the 133 applications for renewal of permission, as requested by the Deputy.

Philippines

60

Egypt

45

Other nationalities*

28

Total

133

*Due to the low numbers involved, it is not possible to provide a more detailed breakdown, which may lead to the identification of individuals.  

At the end of December 2019, there were a total of 230 individuals holding valid letters of permission under the Scheme. Of this group, a total of 61 individuals have not renewed their permission under the Scheme since that time. However, anyone who received a permission under the Scheme in late December 2019, would have been eligible for the automatic extensions of immigration permissions granted as a result of the pandemic, on the same terms and conditions as their original permission. The most recent extension granted is to 20 September 2021.

My Department does not seek information on the reasons why an individual might elect not to renew their permission to reside or work in the State when that permission expires.  It would not be appropriate to provide any further information on this small number of individuals, which may lead to their identification.

Holders of Atypical Working Scheme permits do not meet the eligibility criteria for conversion to a Stamp 4 permission under the Long Term Residency administrative scheme operated by my Department. Eligibility for Long Term Residency is restricted to holders of an employment permit from DETE.

It is open to the fishing industry to apply for inclusion in the DETE employment permit scheme and I understand that my colleague, Minister English, advised them of this at a recent meeting with industry representatives. Inclusion in the employment permit system would secure Stamp 4 status.

Holders of Atypical Working Permits can make an application for a certificate of naturalisation once they meet the residency criteria of five years legal residence in the State. The Stamp 1 granted to Sea Fishers under the terms of the Atypical Scheme is considered reckonable residence for the purpose of making an application for naturalisation.

Investigation and prosecution of breaches of employment law is a matter for the Workplace Relations Commission. To date, my Department has not been made aware of any confirmed breaches requiring the barring of a vessel owner from employing future individuals under the Scheme. The 2015 Task Force Report, which sets out the terms and requirements of the Atypical Working Scheme for non-EEA crew in the Irish fishing fleet, includes the requirement that “Where the contract is breached by the licence holder (employer), no further Atypical Worker Permission will be made available for the purposes of employment to the licence holder (employer)”.

Question No. 544 answered with Question No. 543.