A Ghanaian fisherman has claimed he was put into a survival suit and dumped into the ocean off the Irish coast because he was unable to work.
The crewman says he was put overboard in the early hours of the morning kilometres from the coastline.
He says he was left in the water and had to be picked up by another boat.
The incident was brought to the attention of the International Transport Workers Federation. It raised its concerns with the gardaí and Marine Survey Office here as well as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and police in the UK as the vessel is flagged there.
The fisherman has told the federation that he joined the fishing vessel in Castletownbere, Co Cork, and it then set sail for fishing grounds.
He has made a number of allegations in relation to the boat, including oil and water leaks that made working conditions very slippy.
After five days of fishing, in which the fisherman claims he only got a couple of hours rest every seven or eight hours, he said he injured himself when a plate gave way beneath his feet and he fell, badly hurting his back.
The fisherman claims the skipper became very angry with him when he was forced to lie down due to his injuries. He asked the captain to get the helicopter or someone to get him off the ship.
For the next few days, he was unable to work due to the pain and he “stayed out of the captain’s way”.
He said a naval vessel made a visit to the ship and he told an officer he was injured. He said the officer asked the captain what he intended to do about it and the captain told him he would be returning to harbour the next day and would get help then.
In the early hours of the next morning, the crew member said he was summoned to the deck and told a boat was going to Castletownbere and he was going to be put on it.
A survival suit was put on him by another crew member because he could not do it himself due to his injuries. A rope was then attached to the suit and he was told to climb down the ladder.
He claimed the boat suddenly reversed and he could not hold on and fell into the water. His own boat kept reversing away. Then another boat came, picked him up and brought him back to shore.
He got a bus to Cork and went to hospital where X-rays were taken and he was given crutches. He said he then reported what had happened to him to gardaí.
Gardaí said they are investigating an incident which occurred on May 2 and which was reported to them on May 12.
“A male in his 40s reported receiving injuries on board a fishing vessel in the Atlantic,” a spokesman said.
“The man reports being taken by another boat to Castletownbere. The matter was reported to the MSO. Investigations are ongoing.”
The MSO confirmed that both the vessel the fisherman had been working on and the one that picked him up were inspected by its officials on May 13.
Ken Fleming of the International Transport Workers Federation said it was incredible that a boat would try to transfer an injured man to another vessel in the middle of the ocean. He said it would be watching the Garda investigation closely.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved