Members of the Oireachtas (Dáil and Seanad) have been offered a second chance to make a submission to the consultation process for the National Food Ombudsman for TDs and senators who have not done so already.

This is despite the deadline for making submissions to the consultation having already passed.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Charlie McConalogue offered the extended period for TDs and senators due to the Rural Independent Group of TDs, who did not make a submission before the May 26 closing date.

Those TDs will now have until June 11 to make a submission, should they chose to do so.

The Rural Independents Group consists of: Carol Nolan (Laois-Offaly); Michael Collins (Cork South-West); Danny Healy-Rae (Kerry); Michael Healy-Rae (Kerry); Mattie McGrath (Tipperary); and Richard O’Donoghue (Limerick county).

The Rural Independents recently tabled a motion in the Dáil calling for the establishment of a regulator for the beef sector, believing that an ombudsman would not have the necessary statutory powers. This motion was not passed.

However, in a statement today (Saturday, June 5), Minister McConalogue used both terms to describe the position that would be set up under primary legislation.

“I am committed to delivering a National Food Ombudsman / regulator that will have real teeth and powers. The office was a key commitment in the Programme for Government,” he said.

“I notice that some Oireachtas members have been commenting on the National Food Ombudsman office even though they did not take advantage of the month-long public consultation to make a submission.”

“It is disappointing that members of the Oireachtas now commenting on the office are doing so despite not having made meaningful input,” the minister added.

He noted that the office of food ombudsman / regulator will also act in enforcing the Unfair Trading Practices (UTP) directive from the EU, a breach of which can see fines of up to €500,000 or three-year prison sentences dished out.

“When the milk tank leaves the yard in the morning, when the consumer buys their vegetables at lunch and when the family eats their dinner in the evening, ultimately, it is my ambition that the ombudsman / regulator will give everyone confidence that there is full transparency in our supply chain,” Minister McConalogue concluded.