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Sunday 24 September 2017

Ombudsman poised to hit back after report rejected

Fionnan Sheahan and Michael Brennan

Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly is holding her fire -- for now -- after her report into a controversial compensation scheme for families who lost boats at sea was rejected by an Oireachtas committee.

But Ms O'Reilly signalled last night that she stood by her report and would hit back just as soon as the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee officially informed her of its decision.

Fianna Fail stands accused of undermining the office of the Ombudsman and putting its future in doubt as a result of the 'Lost At Sea' report's rejection.

It is the first time that a body of the Oireachtas has publicly ruled against the office of the Ombudsman.

Ms O'Reilly undertook a three-year investigation after the widow of a fisherman who died off Co Donegal in 1981 was left with a young family of eight but was denied a grant under the Lost at Sea scheme.

Criticising the scheme, Ms O'Reilly referred her report to the Oireachtas after the Department of Agriculture ignored her recommendation that it should pay €245,000 in compensation to the family.

But at a private meeting, all nine Fianna Fail members of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee voted to reject the findings of the 'Lost at Sea' report and defeated the six votes by TDs from Fine Gael, Labour and Sinn Fein.

Irish Independent

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