Sinn Fein TD, Martin Ferris has said in the Dail this week that he has received information that the Chief State Solicitor recommended that the issue should have been referred to the Gardai.
The irregularities in milk supplies took place between a Glanbia milk supplier and Clongowes Wood School. The supplier in question, Bill Carroll, recently resigned as a member of the board of Glanbia Co-operative Society Limited.
Ferris made the following statement to the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, in Dail Eireann today (Wednesday).
“I have reason to believe, from information I have been given – whether it is true or otherwise – that the Chief State Solicitor recommended that this matter be referred to the Garda.
“In the interest of members of the public, we need to know whether that is the case.
“Did the Chief State Solicitor make a recommendation that this matter be investigated by the Garda? If that recommendation was made and the matter was not investigated, it brings into question the situation regarding the Department and the Minister.
“The Minister needs to clear that up,” he said.
In response, the Minister said that he had already indicated that following this investigation he accepted the recommendation of his officials that prosecution in this case should not be pursued.
“In making its recommendation my Department had regard to all of the facts including the corrective action taken, the lack of financial gain for any of the parties concerned, the fact that the parties obligations under the milk quota regulations had ultimately been met, that superlevy was paid and that there was no financial loss to other farmers, the Exchequer or the EU.
Furthermore the ending of the milk quota regime meant there was no deterrent factor for other quota holders in pursuing a prosecution.
“Against that backdrop, my Department didn’t refer that matter to An Garda Siochana,” he said.
The Minister also said that the opinion of the Department’s Secretary General was that taking an uncertain prosecution would expose the state to cost.
“As always the opinion received from counsel is subject to legal privilege and it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to disclose its contents at this time,” the Minister said regarding the Chief State Solicitor’s opinion.
Ferris continued: “He resigned as a result of it being raised in this house and being raised with your Department.
“I find it difficult to comprehend that someone who is in a compromised position of the board of Glanbia has a milk quota being allocated to Clongowes is able to use that milk quota without Glanbia knowing.
If you compare that to the way other farmers are being treated around the country, it stinks to high heaven.
“Why wasn’t it referred to the Gardai because here you have blatant attempted fraud at least.
“You’ve a major milk processing company, you have Clongowes wood and the farmer in question.
“Why wasn’t it referred? Because most people would be of the opinion that if it was somebody else it would be referred to the Gardai,” Ferris said.