Fine Gael Tipperary TD Noel Coonan has welcomed a restructuring of the investigations capability of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the establishment of a new Investigations Division. Deputy Coonan’s colleague Minister Simon Coveney made the announcement this week as part of an on-going modernisation of the structures of his Department and as part of the wider public service reform process.
“We all witnessed the importance of investigation staff during the horsemeat crisis; and this new division aims to protect the reputation of the expanding Agri-food industry and indeed public fund,” said Deputy Coonan.
“The new arrangement brings all investigation capability, both internal and external, into one Division. It is headed by a Senior Superintending Veterinary Officer, supported by a team of investigators, some of whom are core members of the team and others to be drawn from areas where their expertise will be beneficial to the conduct of particular types of investigations.”
Deputy Coonan further explained that the new Investigations Division reports to an Investigations Steering Group chaired by the Assistant Secretary General responsible for Corporate Affairs and will comprise the Chief Veterinary Officer, the Assistant Secretary General with responsibility for direct payments, and the Heads of Legal Services, Internal Audit and HR.
This group will, in all new cases, determine whether matters should be referred back to the relevant inspection areas of the Department for follow through, whether an investigation is warranted and if so, whether this should be conducted by the Investigations Division or referred to the Garda Siochana.
“This new group is important for our international reputation and our indigenous agri-food industry,” concluded Deputy Coonan.