Ombudsman expresses grave concern after Oireachtas committee rejects report

Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly has expressed concern at the rejection of her report into the Lost at Sea scheme by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

In her report on the scheme, she recommended that financial compensation of almost €250,000 be paid to the Byrne family from Donegal who she found had been wrongly excluded from the scheme. The recommendation was rejected by the Department, and has now been rejected by the committee by 9 votes to 7, with the vote breaking down along party lines.

In a statement issued last night, Emily O'Reilly says she has exhausted all the avenues open to her to get their complaint satisfactorily resolved, and stresses she remains convinced as to the merits of the case.

She says the Committee's report suggests it has taken a view based, not on an objective and critical analysis of her report, but on the basis of the party whip system.

The implication of this, she adds, is that the Government is allowed be the judge in its own case.

Ms O'Reilly says the chain of independence envisaged by the Oireachtas when it enacted the
Ombudsman Act 1980 has been broken in this case and that can only be to the detriment of members of the public who have received unfair treatment at the hands of public bodies and rely on her office to resolve their complaints.