Oireachtas should rule in 'Lost at Sea' row - O'Reilly

 

OMBUDSMAN EMILY O’Reilly has said the Dáil and Seanad have the task of deciding who is right and wrong in her dispute with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries over her report on the controversial “Lost at Sea” scheme.

In a statement released ahead of Dáil statements on the report today, Ms O’Reilly said that there was a continuing “impasse” with the department over the report which had not been resolved despite her best efforts.

“The department . . . continues to dispute my findings and recommendations and I have been unable to resolve the impasse,” she said.

“My only option when this arises is to seek the intervention of the Oireachtas. It now has the task of deciding who is right and who is wrong in the context of good administration and fairness to the complainant,” said Ms O’Reilly.

Ms O’Reilly published the report late last year after its findings were rejected by the Department of Agriculture, only the second time this has happened since the office of ombudsman was founded in the 1980s.

The Lost at Sea scheme was established in 2001 by then minister for the marine Frank Fahey. Under the scheme, owners of fishing boats lost at sea could apply for grant aid for replacement capacity.

The Byrne family from Donegal later complained to the ombudsman after its application was rejected, on the grounds it was made after the deadline.

Ms O’Reilly’s report criticised several aspects of the scheme, including the advertising process, which she found was not comprehensive enough. She recommended compensation of almost €250,000 for the Byrnes.