Deputy Frank Feighan has confirmed that, to date, approximately €400,000 in compensation has paid to former Arigna miners under a special fast-track disability arrears scheme.
“Recognition of their plight would not have come about only for the sterling work of a number of people, including Arigna representative, Charlie Hopkins, Vice-Chairman of the National Coalminers Group,” he told the Leitrim Observer.
“Since the Occupational Injuries Benefit review scheme was established in October 2010 which I strongly lobbied for on behalf of coalminers, 400 applicants to date have applied to the scheme for disability arrears. Half of those are men who worked in the Arigna mines.
“I understand 60 cases have now been fully completed with disability arrears awarded but I must emphasise all 400 cases received have been processed and are at varying stages of completion.”
All those who qualify under the scheme will also receive a life pension, an amount directly commensurate to their level of disability.
Deputy Feighan acknowledged there had been unavoidable delays in processing some applications because of a number of factors, most notably the enforced absence due to illness of the Health Department’s Chief Medical Officer and the Independent Medical Consultant, along with quite a large number of applications forms submitted with insufficient information.
“I have been assured by the law firm representing the miners, Doherty, Ryan & Associates, that there is no backlog of cases sitting in a filing cabinet. It’s expected that all those who meet the criteria under the scheme will receive payment by the end of the year at the very latest,” said Deputy Feighan.
“Significantly, the review scheme is still open to miners who believe they may be eligible. Those seeking information can contact either my office (071) 9662115 or Doherty, Ryan & Associates, (01) 6785192,” he said.”