The driving force behind the annual international Lisdoonvarna match-making festival was convicted yesterday of employing migrant workers without Government work permits.
At Lisdoonvarna District Court Marcus White and two hotels controlled by the White family, the Hydro and Imperial in Lisdoonvarna, were fined a total of €11,000 for employing non-nationals without having employment permits.
In all there were 22 summonses against the three defendants and the ruling by Judge Joseph Mangan followed two days of evidence last month.
The prosecution followed a visit to the hotels by members of the Garda National Immigration Bureau during the match-making festival last September.
The court was told that 14 non-nationals, ranging in age from 21 to 39, worked at the two hotels. Seven came from China, two from South Africa and one each from Japan, Thailand, Ukraine, Vietnam and Malaysia.
Eugene O'Kelly, solicitor for the accused, said in court yesterday: "The very week that this case was instigated, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs, Séamus Brennan, announced that 50,000 migrant workers were needed. There are dozens of migrant workers employed by the White hotel group and they have a very good system in place for processing legitimate work permits.
"Mr White and his family are the driving force behind the town of Lisdoonvarna and have transformed the match-making festival from a very small event to an international event, resulting in thousands of visitors to Lisdoonvarna where hundreds of workers are needed. These visitors generate millions of euro for the area."
Judge Mangan imposed a fine of €500 on each of the 22 summonses. Mr White said he is considering appealing the conviction. "I am disappointed as I have never had a conviction in my life, so we will be considering our options over the next few days."