Possible prosecution for horse meat

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney TD has said he is pursing one prosecution in relation to the horse meat scandal and preparation for this is currently under way.

He was speaking to Morning Ireland today, amid criticism by UK MPs who said UK and Irish authorities have failed to acknowledge the extent of the fraud network or prosecute any companies involved in the mislabeling of beef as horsemeat.

“First of all can I say for a UK select committee to criticise the Irish authorities, when we produced a report three months again which was a tough hard-hitting report in relation to our own industry, how it happened and the responses put in place to ensure this does not happen again.”

The minister did not accept the criticism by the UK MPs.

The select committee published a report this morning into the matter. It said a complex network of companies mislabelling meat and trading it fraudulently was behind the horsemeat scandal earlier this year. They were also critical of UK and Irish authorities in the failure to acknowledge the extent of the network or prosecute any companies involved.

“We acted swift and quickly with absolute priority to get the bottom of the horse meat crisis which became a european crisis very, very quickly.

“I think if anybody reads the report which was published back in March and reads the comments in relation to the Irish companies involved and more importantly the problems of importing falsely labelled beef.”

Asked again how many prosecutions to date, the minister replied.

“The only prosecution we are pursing at the moment is in relation to one company who deliberately put false labels on products and we have been taking legal advice on how to pursue that prosecution.

“I have made it very clear that I want to pursue prosecutions but I want to go to court to win. We have taken legal advice from senior counsel. Yes there has been no prosecutions (to date) because it takes time to put together a case to ensure you win. I can assure you it is not because of a lack of effort and if we can secure a prosecution we will do that.”

Pictured Simon Coveney, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine. Photo O’Gorman Photography