Friday 24 November 2017

FF's Fahey tried to intimidate me, says FG senator

Aine Kerr Political Correspondent

FORMER Fianna Fail junior minister Frank Fahey was last night accused of "intimidating behaviour" by a Fine Gael senator.

The accusations of "intimidation" and "intimidating behaviour" from Fine Gael's Eugene Regan followed claims by Fine Gael TD Tom Sheahan on Wednesday that Mr Fahey had "assaulted" a member of the Oireachtas over the 'Lost at Sea' report.

But the former minister and sitting Galway West TD has robustly rejected the accusations. And he has insisted that he will, at an upcoming meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, "correct and clarify" claims made by the opposition parties.

Mr Fahey is at the centre of the controversy over the Lost at Sea compensation scheme, which was implemented when he was marine minister.

Responding to Mr Regan's claims, a spokeswoman for Mr Fahey said he had "approached him (Mr Regan) after a Seanad debate to point out the severity and incorrectness of a statement he had made".

The Fianna Fail spokeswoman said Mr Fahey had pointed out that a report into the scheme by the Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly had made a conclusion of "maladministration" in the setting-up of the scheme.

The Ombudsman's report 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 refused to implement the report and pay the compensation.

Using the privilege of the Seanad yesterday, Mr Regan claimed that when a debate was held in the Seanad before Easter about the scheme, Mr Fahey had sat in the gallery.

He said he wanted to speak about the "intimidation by Deputy Fahey on that occasion".

"I made a statement on the Lost at Sea scheme and the report of the Ombudsman.

"As I left this Chamber, I was tackled by Deputy Fahey in regard to this statement.

'Inappropriate'

"It is entirely inappropriate that the intimidating behaviour of Deputy Fahey in relation to this matter," Mr Regan said. The Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, Pat Moylan, asked Mr Regan to "withdraw his allegation of intimidation".

At Wednesday's meeting of the Agriculture Committee, Mr Sheahan said the scheme was "all about money".

"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. One of the members here was actually assaulted by Deputy Fahey in the House."

Irish Independent

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