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Government needs to finally address ‘Lost at Sea scheme’ failures - Carthy

1 February, 2017 - by Matt Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy has called on the Government to belatedly address the failures of the “corrupt” Lost at Sea scheme enacted by Fianna Fáil scheme in 2001.

Mr. Carthy was speaking following a hearing in the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions when the Byrne family from Donegal again addressed the injustice to the family.

Carthy said: 

“I commend Danny Byrne for his clear and forthright presentation to the European Parliament.  I was pleased to have an opportunity to lend my support to the Byrne family, when their case against successive Irish Governments on the Lost at Sea Scheme came before the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions again.

“Many will remember this Fianna Fáil scheme from 2001 because of the gross abnormalities found to be associated with it by then Irish Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly. 

"The scheme, which was set up to compensate long-standing fishing families through the provision of valuable tonnage quota, was found to have been disproportionally beneficial to a few select constituents of the then Minister Frank Fahy. 

"The Ombudsman’s 2009 investigation into the scheme found that a selective advertisement campaign had been run resulting in 75% of the fund going to two of Fahy’s constituents.

“The Byrnes, who tragically lost two members of their family, 3 crew members and their entire livelihood have been fighting against their exclusion from the scheme ever since.

“Despite themselves being critics of the scheme back in 2009, Fine Gael have done little to right wrongs by taking no less than 3 years to reply to a letter from the Chairperson of the Committee on Petitions asking them to look into the matter and refer it to the proper Oireachtas Committee.

“This is the second time the Bryne family has had to make their case to the Committee on Petitions, showing the unwillingness of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to do fight an obvious wrongdoing.

“During the hearing I called on the European Commission to immediately look into this scheme, something they have refused to do on the basis that the Irish Government never notified them of its existence.

"I also called on the Committee on Petitions to increase pressure on Minister Creed to deliver a satisfactory response to the Byrne family and to implement the recommendations of Emily O’Reilly’s report.

"It is important that the petition is kept open for as long as it takes to get attention from the Irish Government.

“It is inexcusable that the Department took three years to respond to a letter from the European Parliament and even more inexcusable that in the seven years since the Lost at Sea Scheme was found to be corrupt, it was never once referred for an open debate.

"I will continue to work with my Sinn Féin colleagues in Donegal to further the Byrne’s case.” 

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