Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice if an organisation (details supplied) will be consulted as part of the review process in view of the recent announcement that there will be a review of the atypical work permit scheme for non-EEA fishers following a report by Maynooth University; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54123/21]
523. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice the number of fishers currently enrolled in the atypical work permit scheme for non-EEA fishers; the breakdown by nationality; the number of the approximately 180 eligible vessels that have atypical work permit holders on board; the number that have been enrolled in the past six months; the number that have not had their expired contracts renewed in the past six months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [54124/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I propose to take Questions Nos. 522 and 523 together.
As the Deputy is aware, the Atypical Working Scheme (AWS) 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 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. and was welcomed as a solution to the risk of exploitation and to guarantee employment rights and protections to non-EEA fishers availing of the Scheme.
I am aware of the recent report published by Maynooth University. I can advise the Deputy that Minister Browne has discussed the Atypical Working Scheme for non-EEA fishers with Minister McConalogue and Minister English, and the Ministers have agreed to a review of the Scheme being carried out. Officials from the three Departments have held initial discussions on the review and will be engaging further to take this work forward.
While the nature and extent of stakeholder consultation as part of that review has yet to be determined, I am advised that the organisation referred to by the Deputy will be among those invited to a stakeholder consultation meeting shortly by the Cross-Departmental Oversight Committee.
Currently, there are 328 individuals holding a letter of approval under the AWS Scheme to work on 105 of the 171 vessels falling within the remit of the Scheme. This figure of 171 represents less than 10% of the entire Irish fishing fleet.
The breakdown by nationality of these 328 individuals is set out in the table below:
|Country of Origin|
In the six month period between 1 May 2021 and 29 October 2021, my Department granted 129 of these permissions.
Since 1 January 2019, 112 of the 328 permissions granted have not yet been renewed. However, if the individual SeaFisher continues to comply with the terms and conditions of the immigration permission granted to them, they will continue to hold a valid immigration permission until 15 January 2022, under the eight general extensions of immigration permissions announced between 20 March 2020 and 15 January 2022.
This measure has ensured that no non-EEA fisher who was in permission has fallen out of permission during the pandemic. My officials will be writing to the applicants’ legal advisors, alerting them of the approaching deadline and the need for their clients to engage with my Department in advance of the 15 January 2022 deadline, if they wish to renew their permissions.
I understand that there are currently 256 active contracts of employment lodged with the Central Depository of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. it is a matter for the employer and their legal agent to make contact with that Department if they wish to renew or lodge a new contract. Question No. 523 answered with Question No. 522.