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Question

127. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Justice if she will consider permitting the regularisation of fishers in the atypical scheme for non-EEA workers on stamp 4 equivalent status given the fact that those who are undocumented in the sector may be able to avail of a stamp 4 status through a scheme to regularise undocumented status; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57952/21]

Answer

Deputy Helen McEntee: As the Deputy is aware, the atypical working scheme 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 importantly, to guarantee employment rights and protections to non-EEA fishers availing of the scheme. The Minister of State, Deputy Browne, discussed the atypical working scheme for non-EEA fishers with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy McConalogue and the Minister of State, Deputy English, and it was agreed that a review of the scheme would be carried out. Officials from our three Departments have held initial discussions on the review and will be engaging further to take this work forward as a priority.
In the interim, there are a number of other immigration avenues available to deal with any issues of concern. Those who wish to change employer within the sector of the fishing industry covered by the scheme can apply to my Department to do so. There is also ministerial discretion to grant a change of immigration status on a case-by-case basis, where this is requested by an applicant.
Regarding the regularisation scheme for long-term undocumented people mentioned specifically by the Deputy, my Department is still finalising the details of the scheme. This includes the eligibility considerations and qualifying criteria. The intention is to bring a proposal to Government in the coming weeks and to publish the details of the scheme before the year is out. The Deputy will appreciate that the details of the scheme are still being worked out. We are trying to make it as expansive and inclusive as possible, also taking into account that there are a significant number of other avenues for individuals to take in trying to regularise their status or to continue regularising a status that they currently obtain or hold. We are trying to ensure that as many people are supported as possible in this industry in general.