Minister Simon Coveney’s latest statement on the horsemeat controversy leaves a lot of questions unanswered, according to Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture, Éamon Ó Cuív.

Deputy Ó Cuív was reacting to a statement from Minister Coveney, which provided an update on the controversy.

“While I welcome the update provided by the Minister today, it doesn’t bring sufficient clarity or certainty to the situation. For some reason, Minister Coveney seems to be drip feeding bits and pieces of information on the origins and circumstances of the horsemeat DNA found in beef burgers. He has failed to reassure farmers, producers, retailers and the general public that he is on top of this and dealing with it.

“If there is some good reason for the Minister to be withholding information then he should come out and say so. All this vagueness has caused huge disquiet in the farming community and is putting the industry in jeopardy. This investigation has been on-going for two months now and this needs to be brought to a speedy conclusion. We need answers as soon as possible.

“The Minster must be much more upfront. The more uncertainty we have, the more rumours start spreading and the more damage will be done to the industry. What we need most of all here is clarity and sadly the Minister has failed to provide it.

“I am again calling for the Minister and his officials to attend an immediate of the Oireachtas Agriculture Committee, where we can tease out all of the remaining questions in detail. He should also undertake that his officials would give a detailed briefing to the committee on a weekly basis and take questions until this crisis is over. Thus would serve to scotch many of the rumours that are arising because of vacuum being created by the Minister.

“The Minister and his Department need a much greater sense of urgency in their response. Except for a brief appearance in the Dáil, the Minister has not explained the situation or answered questions in the Oireachtas. Before assuming office, this Government promised openness and transparency but they have failed their own test in this crisis.”