New investigations unit for Department

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is getting a new Special Investigations Unit.

The new Unit was announced by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney today, who said it was part of a restructuring of the investigations capability of the Department as part of an on-going modernisation of the structures of his Department and as part of the wider public service reform process .

“Following a recent review of the governance structure around the conduct of all investigations by my Department which began earlier this year, I decided there was a need for the establishment of a new Investigations Division”. 

He said he was determined to have in place a strong, cohesive, consolidated and effective investigation capability to ensure and protect the reputation of the expanding Agri-food industry and indeed public funds”.

The new arrangement brings all investigation capability, both internal and external, into one Division, he said, and 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.

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.

The Special Investigation Unit has come in for criticism following a number of high profile cases recently. One case involved

A number of years ago a group of farmers with concerns about the Department’s Special Investigations Unit formed a committee to fight their cases through the courts. One farmer, John Fleury, recently won his 16-year battle with the Department in light of 160 charges brought against him by the Department.

The new Investigations Division includes the functions previously undertaken by the Special Investigations Unit.