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Coveney: Horsemeat scandal a result of bad management, not illegal management

In an interview with TheJournal.ie, Coveney said that his department has handed information to authorities in other countries and that he expects them to pursue prosecutions.

MINISTER SIMON COVENEY has said that the majority of the problems relating to the horsemeat scandal were as a result of bad management rather than illegal activity.

It emerged earlier this week that just one prosecution is being sought over the scandal but in an interview with TheJournal.ie, Coveney said that “anyone who has broken the law in relation to the horsemeat scandal, we will pursue”.

(Video: © TheJournal.ie)

Coveney said that the one company being pursued was “deliberately putting false labels on product” and that as far as he is concerned “that is not acceptable”.

“We are looking at whether we can put a case together but you know putting a legal case together on something as complex as this does take some time and we only launched the report in March so we’re working with the gardaí on that and we’ll see where it goes.”

While the Minister asserted that those found to be in breach of the law will be pursued, he said that “most of the problem was as a result of bad management, not illegal management”.

“The companies that were involved in the scandal, in my view, were involved because of poor management and poor record keeping and maybe a lack of testing but whether they actually knowingly broke the law, I don’t think we’ve managed to prove that,” he said.

Coveney also said that much of the scandal was caused by problems with imported meat and that information has now been passed onto the authorities in other countries so they can pursue prosecutions.

(Video: © TheJournal.ie)

Commenting on his department’s handling of the scandal, Coveney said that he thought it gave “the kind of priority that story needed”.

Anyone who reads our horsemeat report, which was published back in March, would get a very clear picture as to how this happened, why it happened and our response to make sure it doesn’t happen again, as as to whether we did a good job, in the public eye, I’ll leave it to other people to judge me on that.

“Within 48 hours, that scandal became a European scandal and actually, as it turned out, through this process, now that its over in some ways the whole horsemeat scandal has enhanced the reputation of the Irish food industry because we’re the ones that actually exposed the problem in the first place,” he said.

“Certainly I would say that in the aftermath of it there is more demand for Irish beef than there ever has been now and beef prices reflect that,” he added.

- Camera by Sinead O’Carroll.

Read: Just one prosecution being sought over horsemeat scandal>
Read: Burger King returns to 100% Irish beef>

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