Businessman fined €1,200 for operating illegal employee scam

September 28, 2021

A businessman has been fined €1,200 for employing foreign nationals without work permits after a Garda blitz on a number of takeaways in Co Donegal.

A total of nine foreign nationals were found working in three different premises belonging to Raj Bir on the Inishowen Peninsula.

None of those interviewed by Gardai and inspectors from the Workplace Relations Commission had work permits.

Two of those arrested were people living in Direct Provision in Co Limerick who had traveled to Donegal for work.

The case was taken against Mr Bir by the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

Mr Bir, with company addresses as Upper Main Street in Buncrana, appeared at Buncrana District Court facing a total of 7 charges.

Donegal State Solicitor Mr Ciaran Liddy told the court that the raids on the premises took place on five different dates at three different takeaways.

They included Tasty Bites in Clonmany, Nightstar in Buncrana and Apache Pizza in Carndonagh.

Workplace Relations Commission Inspector Tom Hayes outlined details of the raids on the various takeaways.

During one such raid at Apache Pizza in Carndonagh on November 30th, 2019, two people working in the kitchen fled out the back door.

They were apprehended by Garda Michael McGrath and it transpired the men were from Pakistan but had been living in Direct Provision in Foynes, Co Limerick.

The owner of the business Mr Bir arrived later and asked inspectors “Today is Tuesday. What are you doing here on a Tuesday? You never visit on a Tuesday.”

Solicitor for the accused, Mr Frank Dorrian said his client had no previous convictions.

He suggested that although what Mr Bir was doing was illegal he was merely trying to help fellow people from his homeland to prosper and thought he was simply “rendering assistance.”

Judge Raymond Finnegan replied “I think he was more than likely rendering assistance to himself.”

Mr Dorrian added that there was no issue of the workers being exploited which was accepted by Gardai and said there was a pattern of providing employment “to their own.”

Judge Finnegan added that he had sympathy for the accused as he knew how difficult it was to get staff within the catering industry.

He fined Mr Bir a total of €1,200 on four of the charges and took the others into consideration.