Tuesday 16 January 2018

Watchdog won't be muzzled over grant scheme inquiry


EMILY O'Reilly is a watchdog who will bark when challenged. She is not a fan of the "softly, softly" regulatory approach made famous by the likes of former Financial Regulator Patrick Neary in his dealings with Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide and others.

Her role as Ombudsman, which she clearly outlined yesterday, is to protect the people from any "excess or unfairness" on the part of government. And she clearly believes this is what has happened with the operation of the now infamous 'Lost at Sea' scheme.

She mounted a four-year investigation into a complaint made by the family of Francis Byrne, a fishing boat owner who lost his life along with his 16-year-old son Jimmy and three other crew off the coast of Donegal in 1981. His widow was left with a young family of five boys and three girls. But she was denied a grant under the 2001 Lost at Sea scheme set up to help fishing families who had lost boats at sea to get back into the industry.

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