The Labour Party leader, Pat Rabbitte, has said a new work permit system to control the numbers of people coming to work in Ireland from outside the State may be necessary.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland, he said such a scheme should be examined in the wake of the Irish Ferries dispute, although he did not say whether or not it should be implemented.

Mr Rabbitte said that while the new diversity in the workforce would enrich Irish society, it should be 'sensitively managed'.

He also said there was a lack of enforcement of employment standards, adding that the exploitation of immigrant labour is a reality.