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Byrne Lost at Sea case in European Parliament

Father-of-nine, skipper Francis Byrne who died along with his son Jimmy and three other men on the Skifjord trawler off Burtonport on October 31, 1981.

Father-of-nine, skipper Francis Byrne who died along with his son Jimmy and three other men on the Skifjord trawler off Burtonport on October 31, 1981.

The European Parliament is set to consider the exclusion of the Byrne family of Bruckless from the Lost at Sea Scheme tomorrow (Monday).

Jim Higgins MEP and Danny Byrne, the family’s spokesperson,are taking the Lost at Sea case to the European Parliament’s Petitions Committee.

The Byrne family sought, and were refused, assistance from the Lost at Sea Scheme in 2001 after their father (Francis, 40), brother (Jimmy, 16) and three crew members were lost when their boat the Skifjord struck a reef off Burtonport and sank on October 31, 1981.

Ahead of today’s meeting, Mr Higgins said: “I’ve been fighting for justice for the Byrne family since I first learned of their plight in 2004. I was the one who lobbied the Ombudsman to investigate the scheme.

“The then Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly conducted an excellent report in 2009 and I have fought for the Ombudsman’s report to be implemented ever since.”

“Among her findings she highlighted several oddities of the scheme - the fact that it only actively took in applications for six months, the selective advertisement of the scheme and that 75% of the compensation went to two constituents of Fianna Fáil’s Frank Fahey TD, who created the scheme.”

He had welcomed the report’s finding that the Byrne family had wrongfully been excluded from the scheme.

The report also recommended that €245,570 be granted to the Byrne family, who lost everything.

“However” he said, “five years later, despite a change in the Government, the Byrne family has yet to receive one penny of compensation.

“We’ll ask the European Parliament to join me in my calls for the Ombudsman’s report to be implemented and for the Byrne family to finally be compensated.”

 

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