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Dublin: 13 °C Friday 20 September, 2019

Just one prosecution being sought over horsemeat scandal

Minister Simon Coveney says he is not going to court unless he knows he can win.

Wartime rations forced women and families to buy horsemeat in the 1940s.
Wartime rations forced women and families to buy horsemeat in the 1940s.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

MINISTER SIMON COVENEY has confirmed that Irish authorities are currently just pursuing one prosecution in relation to the horsemeat scandal.

The suspect company is accused of putting false labels on products.

Speaking to Morning Ireland, the Minister said legal advice has been sought about how to secure the conviction.

“I’ve made it very clear that I want to secure prosecutions but I’m not going to court unless I know I can win,” he continued. “It takes time to put a case together to make sure you win. I can assure you it is not because of a lack of effort. If we can secure a prosecution, we will do that.”

His comments come following the publication of a UK House of Commons report which criticised British and Irish authorities for the “slow pace of investigations” and for failing to acknowledge the extent of the illegal and fraudulent activities by companies.

It said the evidence received from retailers and food processors suggested a “complex, highly organised network of companies trading in and mislabelling frozen and processed meat or meat products in a way that fails to meet specifications and that is fraudulent and illegal”.

The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee asked for assurance that prosecutions will be mounted where there is evidence of fraud or other illegal activity.

The criticisms were dismissed by Coveney who said Ireland acted “quickly, swiftly and with absolute priority” when light was first shed on the contamination controversy. He described his Department’s report into the events as tough and hard-hitting.

Read: Equine database set up following horsemeat scandal

More: ABP sells Silvercrest plant mired in horsemeat controversy

Related: Ikea may still sell horsemeat tainted meatballs

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