Scammed overseas student sent from UK to ‘job’ at International Protection Office, Dáil hears

Man had legitimate visa for UK but agency charged him £1,500 and took his passport after falsely offering full employment permission in Ireland

More than 30 students from outside the EU were scammed by an employment agency in the UK into thinking they had a job in Dublin – only to arrive at their supposed place of employment to discover it was the IPAS office, the Dáil has heard.

Independent TD Michael McNamara highlighted the case of one man “from the Indian subcontinent” who had travelled to the UK on a legitimate student visa who was allowed to work 10 hours a week. The student wanted to work more hours and went to an agency in the UK which “told him he could get full employment permission in Ireland”. They arranged his travel by ferry from Liverpool to Belfast and down to Dublin, charged him £1,500 and retained his passport so that they would be paid a further £1,000 when he started work.

The Clare TD said the student is “trying to get out of the asylum system and return back to the United Kingdom. He doesn’t have his passport.”

Mr McNamara said the student “obviously didn’t know that he was being sent to the IP (International Protection) office. He was one of five travelling in the similar way organised by the same agents in the same day and he knows of 30 more people sent to Ireland by that agency in the same way”.


“Vulnerable people in a precarious position” were being “horribly exploited by bad actors, but it’s equally clear that our State is being influenced by those bad actors”, Mr McNamara said.

He added that if one agency in London is trafficking people, “there are many doing this in London”.

Taoiseach Simon Harris said this was an issue “we will take and do take extraordinarily seriously. There is also very significant collaboration between the Garda Siochána and the police force in the United Kingdom”.

Mr Harris added that legislation had been passed in the Dáil and would be going to through the Seanad on trafficking. There was a lot of work still to be done but he said “there has been some progress in this area”.

Earlier Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae said tourism in Killarney was being affected because of the number of migrants being placed in hotels, taking up 36 per cent of hotel accommodation.

He said “people are objecting to people being placed in hotels, paid full social welfare and all the benefits and [having] a good time inside our hotels. How can you explain that Taoiseach, because that’s what’s happening.”

Mr Harris told him he had been in Kerry many times and he was aware of how reliant the tourism and hospitality sector were on migrant staff. He added he was sure Mr Healy-Rae would want to acknowledge that important role of migrants. There were a number of hotels no longer being used for migrants in Kerry, he added.

The Taoiseach said there was a serious challenge in migration “but I as Taoiseach intend to take charge of this situation and support Ministers across Government because it is a whole of Government issue”.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times