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Coveney Announces New Investigations Division in the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney TD has today announced a restructuring of the investigations capability of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as part of an on-going modernisation of the structures of his Department and as part of the wider public service reform process .

Speaking on the announcement the Minister said “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”.

Minister Coveney added “I 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. It 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.

This group will, in all new cases, determine whether matters should be referred back to the relevant inspection areas of the Department for follow through, whether an investigation is warranted and if so, whether this should be conducted by the Investigations Division or referred to the Garda Siochana. Where investigations are being conducted internally, the Steering Group will oversee the conduct of investigations and, in conjunction with the Head of the Division, determine whether the submission of cases for prosecution is warranted. This new Investigations Division includes the functions previously undertaken by the Special Investigations Unit.

My Department seeks to promote the highest levels of legal compliance to protect the health of consumers and to promote and sustain a vibrant Agri-food industry in Ireland. This is vital to Ireland’s reputation internationally. In altering the inspection capability in the manner outlined I am in fact enhancing our capacity to protect Ireland’s international reputation whilst also providing for enhanced governance arrangements in respect of when and how investigations are carried out”  the Minister added.

Concluding, the Minister said, “I want to formally acknowledge the dedication and commitment of the staff of my Department who carry out investigations in sometimes very challenging circumstances, a fact I experienced first-hand last year when dealing with the equine DNA investigation which was conducted by my officers in a highly pressurised environment where their focus and sense of purpose was highly visible and extremely successful”.

View this Press Release as a PDF: DAFMPR 140/2014 (pdf 116Kb) 


Date Released: 01 October 2014