1 April 2010 Edition

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Doherty demands enquiry into Lost at Sea Scheme

Pearse Doherty

Pearse Doherty

Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty on Wednesday took part in a debate around Frank Fahey’s involvement in the Lost at Sea Scheme tabled by himself in conjunction with Fine Gael and independent Senators David Norris and Joe O’Toole.  
Senator Doherty said: “This motion deals with the special report by the Office of the Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly regarding the design and administration of the Lost at Sea Scheme. This report instructed the Oireachtas Committee on Finance and the Public Service to carry out an investigation into the report and its findings. The government has refused to undertake this investigation.  
“When the Scheme was proposed there was a view within the Department that it might actually facilitate certain people accessing quota while others were forced to pay for it or were unable to get any. Minister Fahey overruled those objections. The manner in which the scheme operated only heightened that concern.  
“Apart from the failure to advertise more widely the Ombudsman found that some of those who applied were in fact written to in order to inform them of its existence. On what basis was it decided to contact those individuals and not others?  
“Of the 67 applicants between June 2001 and the closing of the scheme on 31 December, only six were accepted. €2.8 million was paid out to those six successful applicants to buy replacement tonnage. Two of the then Minister’s constituents got 75 per cent or €2.1 million of the total funds.  
“It was later discovered that although the scheme did not close until 31 December 2001, that Minister Fahey had written to his two constituents in October congratulating them on being successful. Apparently Minister Fahey’s two constituents were the people who originally suggested establishing the scheme.  
“It was also found that one of those persons did not actually qualify but he appealed and was accepted in 2003 with one of the reasons cited for the award being the fact that Minister Fahey’s letter of congratulations had created the reasonable expectation that he would in fact receive compensation.  
“I intend to use tomorrow’s debate as an opportunity to call on the government to immediately implement a process of enquiry into this scheme and its administration. I would call specifically on the two Donegal Senators Brian Ó Domhnaill and Cecilia Keaveny to support the passage of this joint motion and to put an end to cronyism and corruption in all its manifestations.”

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