From an FOI document we discovered that Mary Coughlan's Enterprise, Trade and Employment department has ordered a crack-down on Bulgarian and Romanian workers in Ireland who don't have work permits.
Ger Deering, from the National Employment Rights Authority (Nera), told me there may be in excess of 5,000 workers from these two countries who don't have the right to work in Ireland.
The maximum possible fine for employing a person without the right permit is €250,000. That legislation has been on the books since 2003 but it's only now that Nera inspectors will be given the authority to take prosecutions for these offences.
The figures - since 2007 Romanians have been issued 22,414 PPS numbers but only 281 work permits - aren't as clear as you might think. Just because a Romanian has a PPS number doesn't mean they are working.
Romanians are entitled to work here without a permit if they are self employed or if they are students. If they were here pre-2007 and working they are also OK. If they've worked under a permit for 12 months in Ireland they are then free to work without one.
Understandably the targeting of the Romanians and Bulgarians hasn't gone down well in those communities. While they are part of the EU they don't have the same entitlements as other EU citizens. When you see what's happened in Belfast they've every right to feel aggrieved about how they are treated on this island.
It seems this planned crackdown on "illegal workers" is part of a general tightening up of work permit rules and their enforcement in the Republic. While immigration wasn't a big political issue during the Celtic Tiger years, when there were plenty of jobs, it's likely to be a controversial area as unemployment continues to rise.