FOLLOWING a vote today, at the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee to reject the Ombudsman’s report on the Lost at Sea scheme, Labour’s Sean Sherlock has described Fianna Fáil’s approach to the matter as “absolutely shameful”.
Deputy Sherlock said, “The Labour Party voted for this report, because we believe that the independence of the Ombudsman’s office must be upheld. The concept of independence however, is foreign to Fianna Fáil, and they seem to believe that it’s perfectly all right to adopt an a-la-carte approach to Obmbudsman’s reports, accepting those that they are happy with, but rejecting those that may highlight some uncomfortable truths.
“In this instance, the Byrne family were clearly vindicated by the Ombudsman’s report, which found that the Lost at Sea scheme was operated in a way that was contrary to the principles of sound administration.
“There is no escaping that fact. The Ombudsman clearly found that some applicants were treated more favourably than others and were invited to apply for the scheme and some were consulted on the scheme as to its potential terms.
“The Fianna Fáil rejection of this report today is tantamount to an attack on the office of the Ombudsman and on its incumbent. They are now saying that a citizen whose case has been dealt with by the Ombudsman can no longer be assured that where the Government might be unhappy with her findings, they will not simply reject reasonable recommendations put forward.
“I fear that the politicisation of this report will have serious ramifications for the future viability of the independence of that office,” he said.