Fine Gael Kildare South TD, Martin Heydon, has today (Wednesday) welcomed the announcement by Minister for Agriculture and the Marine, Simon Coveney TD, that a new Investigations Division is to be established within his Department. The new unit comes as a result of a restructuring of the investigations capability of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

“I welcome the establishment of an Investigations Division within the Department of Agriculture. This is something I have been calling for a long time and I am delighted the Minister is progressing this initiative.

 “The investigations staff within the Department of Agriculture are crucial to our farming community. We all realised the importance of their work during the horsemeat crisis, where they ably and efficiently rooted out the source of the problem and dealt with it.

 “I am glad now that these staff will be working under a newly established Investigations Division, with clear processes governing their work, in which both farmers and the general public can have confidence.

 “The new arrangement announced today brings all investigation capability, both internal and external, into one Investigations Division within the Department. It is headed by a Senior Superintending Veterinary Officer and supported by a team of investigators. Some of these investigators are core members of the team and others are to be drawn from areas where their expertise will be beneficial to specific investigations.

“An Investigations Steering Group chaired by the Assistant Secretary General responsible for Corporate Affairs, will decide if an investigation is warranted, and whether that investigation should be investigated internally or referred to the Gardaí.

“It is important that all investigations take place in an open and transparent culture with specially qualified staff to do the work and I welcome the new Investigations Division in this context.”