Ex-FF minister 'hit politician during row' in Leinster House
FORMER Fianna Fail junior minister Frank Fahey "assaulted" a politician over the 'Lost At Sea' report, a Fine Gael TD claimed yesterday.
Mr Fahey, a close associate of Taoiseach Brian Cowen, is at the centre of the controversy over the 'Lost at Sea' compensation scheme which was implemented when he was Marine Minister.
The continued fallout from the Ombudsman's report into the scheme gathered pace yesterday with claims from Fine Gael's Tom Sheahan that a member of the Oireachtas had been "assaulted" by the former minister and sitting Galway West TD Mr Fahey.
That charge was last night robustly refuted by Mr Fahey who accused Fine Gael of making "another false allegation".
His spokeswoman said the Fianna Fail TD would "correct and clarify" claims made by the opposition parties when he appears before the Agriculture Committee in the coming weeks. The war of words between the two parties follows the report of Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly which found that the scheme's design and the way it was advertised were "contrary to fair and sound administration".
Her report recommended compensation of €245,000 for one family who missed out on the scheme. But the Department of Agriculture has steadfastly refused to implement the report and pay the compensation.
At yesterday's committee meeting, Mr Sheahan said the scheme was "all about money" and the former minister "looking after two of his constituents". Under the scheme, €2.8m was paid out in grants so that six applicants could replace their fishing vessels lost at sea.
Opposition parties have claimed two of Mr Fahey's constituents obtained some 75pc of the compensation given out. "I can personally state that Mr Fahey not only abused, attacked and threatened members of the House regarding this scheme, regarding your report, over things we may have to say," Mr Sheahan said, using the privilege of the Oireachtas to make the serious charge.
"One of the members here was actually assaulted by Deputy Fahey in the House ... members of the media, chairman, have been warned . . . threatened."
But Fianna Fail TD Bobby Aylward, who is the acting committee chairman, appealed to Mr Sheahan to refrain from using such serious language and travelling into "uncharted waters".
Mr Aylward said Mr Fahey would attend the committee in the coming weeks.
However, Mr Sheahan insisted: "They are all facts."