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Minister Creed addresses family complaint to Ombudsman regarding the Lost at Sea Scheme

Minister Creed announced today that he has taken steps to address a complaint made by the Byrne family regarding the application made by Ms Winifred Byrne to the Lost as Sea Scheme in 2003.

Minister Creed said: “I have decided to exercise my discretion in this matter to implement the Ombudsman's recommendation to make a payment strictly on an ex-gratia basis to Ms Winifred Byrne. This decision is expressly to satisfy the Ombudsman’s recommendation concerning Ms Byrne’s application to the Lost at Sea Scheme.”

The recommendation made by the Ombudsman arose from a complaint taken by Ms Byrne’s son Daniel Byrne regarding the refusal of his mother’s application to the Lost at Sea Scheme in respect of the MFV Skijford. The Ombudsman recommended that a payment of €245,570 by made in the case.

Acknowledging the difficult circumstances in which the application and complaint arose, Minister Creed said “The Byrne family have my sincere sympathy and that of my officials for the heart-rending loss of life they suffered in the original tragic incident at sea.”

The current Fishing Boat Register was introduced in 1990 and at that time the capacity of all fishing vessels was recorded as part of the registration process. EU fleet management rules introduced a cap on the size of Member State fleets, including Ireland, by setting a ceiling on the total capacity of the fleet in gross tonnes and kilowatt units. The management of EU fishing fleets using vessel capacity in terms of Gross Tonnage and Engine power (kilowatts) is a cornerstone of the Common Fisheries Policy. The Lost at Sea Scheme was a limited scheme which was open for 6 months from June 2001 to December 2001. The scheme gave an opportunity for applicants, who had lost a vessel at sea prior to the introduction of the Fishing Boat Register, to be considered for an award of capacity (not financial aid) equivalent to the lost vessel so that a new vessel could be registered and licensed as a sea-fishing boat. In all, the Ombudsman received six complaints from persons claiming that they were unfairly denied benefit under the Scheme. Five were not upheld, the sixth, which came from the Byrne family, was upheld. Recommendations by the Ombudsman are not legally binding.