ALLEGATIONS that Irish construction workers were subjected to ‘organised victimisation’ involving the British state are likely to be ignored, The Irish Post can reveal.
The Scottish Affairs Committee, which is investigating the blacklisting scandal, said the suggestion that Irish workers were kept out of work because members of the police or security services shared intelligence data about them is ‘not one for us’.
The revelation has led a senior politician to call for a full public inquiry into blacklisting that could address the allegation.
Earlier this year, The Irish Post revealed that at least one-in-ten of the people on a secret industry blacklist used to keep thousands out of work were Irish. The actual number is expected to be significantly larger.
In early 2009, the Information Commissioner’s Office raided The Consulting Association and discovered a 3,000-person database used by over 40 construction companies – including Sir Robert McAlpine – to vet construction workers. Many were blacklisted for being active in a trade union or for raising health and safety concerns.
The Scottish Affairs Committee’s interim report, released last month, omitted the claim made to it by David Clancy, Investigations Manager at the Information Commissioner’s Office, that he believes a blacklist file of an Irish national contains information supplied by the police or security services. He also told the committee that the file contained information about whether or not the person had security clearance to work on Ministry of Defence construction sites.
Asked why these claims have been neglected, a spokesperson for the Committee said: “There was no further evidence received to corroborate the suggestion of Irish workers being blacklisted and it wasn’t one of the avenues the Committee chose to pursue in what was an interim report.”
Although the spokesperson said the Committee could revisit Mr Clancy’s claims, he suggested that it is unlikely to do so.
Pointing out that the Committee is “trying to keep the focus of the inquiry within our remit”, he said: “Clearly, if true, the blacklisting of Irish workers is a serious matter, but it is not really one for us.”
The revelation has led a senior Labour politician to renew his call for a Government-led investigation into blacklisting.
“Allegations raised in evidence given to the Scottish Affairs Committee that Irish nationals were blacklisted to prevent them working on Ministry of Defence construction sites are greatly concerning,” Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna told The Irish Post.
A government-led inquiry into blacklisting, he said, could address “worrying allegations of police and security services collusion”.
Mr Umunna, who raised Mr Clancy’s claims in Parliament earlier this year, added: “The Scottish Affairs Committee’s report this week underlines the need for a full investigation and for government to look again at sanctions and whether the law can be tightened up to prevent this scandal ever being repeated.”
Labour backbencher John McDonnell MP, who helped to establish the Blacklist Support Group, said: “People’s lives were devastated by blacklisting as many workers lost their jobs and their families suffered real hardship.
“We want the truth about how Irish workers were targeted and who in the state authorised or turned a blind eye to this organised victimisation.”