The move to pay compensation to the Byrne family in Donegal under the “Lost at Sea” scheme has been welcomed by Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West.

Bruckless resident Winifred Byrne has received an ex-gratia payment from Minister for Marine Michael Creed, after a 14-year battle over her exclusion from the scheme set up to support families whose vessels sink.

Almost nine years ago, the then Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly recommended that a sum of €245,570 be paid to Ms Byrne after investigating a complaint taken by her son, Danny, on her behalf in 2004.

Ms Byrne’s husband Francis (pictured), her 16-year-old son Jimmy, and three other crew died when their fishing vessel Skifjord sank in 1981.

In 2001, then marine minister Frank Fahey initiated a limited scheme to encourage families who had lost vessels between 1980 and 1989 to stay in fishing, by awarding compensatory “tonnage” .

Mr  Carthy commended the family members who have campaigned for 14 years to secure compensation owed to them as a result of the deaths of their loved ones in 1981.
Mr Carthy said: “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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