Claims News

Donegal Widow Awarded Compensation for Sea Death of Husband and Son in 1981

Posted on: May 20th, 2018

Winifred Byrne, a Donegal widow, has finally been awarded €245,570 in lost at sea compensation.

Ms Byrne secured Ombudsman’s support for State compensation in 2009 after she was excluded from a scheme over exclusion from a Government scheme by the n Minister for the Marine Frank Fahey during the 1990s. Mr Fahey launched a restricted scheme to encourage families who had lost vessels between 1980 and 1989 to stay in fishing, by awarding compensatory them “tonnage”

Ms Byrne, a resident of Bruckless in Co Donegal, has been awarded an ex-gratia payment from current Minister for Marine Michael Creed, after a 14-year dispute when she was left out of the scheme. Despite there being 67 applications through the scheme, only six were approved and 75% of the funds paid were to constituents of the then Minister Fahey.

Ms Byrne’s husband Francis and her 16-year-old son Jimmy were lost along with three other crewmen after their fishing boat Skifjord perished off the coast in 1981.

As the scheme had not been widely publicised the Byrne family brought an official complaint in 2004 after their initial application had been rejected. Ombudsman Ms Emily O’Reilly ruled in their favour in December 2009, commenting that the scheme had been improperly managed.

Danny Byrne said that his mother has now received the payment, and praised Minister of the Marine Mr Michael Creed, and to former Fine Gael MEP Jim Higgins who had supported the family’s cause over the years.

Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West commented on the case saying, “I want to extend my congratulations to the Byrne family for the sheer determination and perseverance they exhibited in seeing through their campaign against successive Irish Governments on the Lost at Sea scheme.  I am delighted that they have now finally received the compensation that was legislatively owed to them and hope that this will close what I am sure has been a difficult, and at times frustrating, case.

“The Byrnes, who tragically lost two members of their family, three crew members and their entire livelihood had been fighting against their exclusion from the scheme for over 3 decades.”


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