Published on 2 May 2018
Ombudsman Peter Tyndall today welcomed Minister Michael Creed’s announcement that he will implement an Ombudsman recommendation that a Donegal family receive compensation of €245,570. The announcement follows an initial refusal in 2009 by the then Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to implement the recommendation.
The Ombudsman’s recommendation came after the Department refused the family’s application under the state’s Lost At Sea scheme. The application followed a fishing tragedy in which five people lost their lives, including the family’s father and his son.
The Lost At Sea scheme had been set up in 2001 for those who had lost a vessel at sea between 1980 and 1989. Successful applicants were made an award of ‘capacity’ so that a new vessel could be registered and licensed as a fishing boat.
In 1981 Mr Francis Byrne, the owner and skipper of a fishing vessel, along with his 16 year old son Jimmy and three other men died tragically when their boat sank off the coast of Donegal. The Byrne family’s application under the scheme was refused and they complained to the Ombudsman. The then Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, found that the design of the scheme and the way in which it was advertised were contrary to fair and sound administration. Her investigation involved a single complaint and recommended that the family receive compensation of €245,570.
The Department refused to implement the Ombudsman’s recommendation – the first and only time in the 34 year history of the Office that an investigation recommendation has not been implemented. Current Ombudsman Peter Tyndall continued to highlight the case following his appointment in 2013.
Welcoming yesterday's announcement the Ombudsman said:
“This was a heartbreaking tragedy for the Byrne family and the families of the other men who died. The family have had to pursue this case for over fifteen years. I am pleased that Minister Creed has now implemented this recommendation and has righted a wrong that was done to the family so many years ago.”
The full report of the Ombudsman’s investigation Lost at Sea is available here.