Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle O Neill and SF Agricultural spokesperson in the Dail Martin Ferris TD met in Loughry College in Cookstown to discuss the evolving horsemeat scandal. They also conducted a teleconference with Safefood Ireland and agreed that further meetings on this issue should take place with them this week.
Minister O'Neill said, " It is important that we work closely with all the relevant agencies in attempting to get to the bottom of this evolving crisis for the processing sector and supermarkets. They need to put in place systems that can begin to restore consumer confidence in the products that they are selling. Our local Irish produce is not involved in this issue and our traceability systems are second to none, therefore our local farmers are rightly angry that the either gross negligence or criminality within the food chain is causing concerns to consumers."
She continued, "It is vital that this investigation, which is now EU wide, gets to the bottom of this speedily and any wrong doing is dealt with by the full force of the law. The FSA in the north and FSAI in the south need to work very closely together in order to restore confidence in the processing industry.
Sinn Fein Agriculture spokesperson Martin Ferris TD said, "We had a very useful discussion with Safefood Ireland and I hope to meet them again shortly I feel that this organisation could have an important role in the future in ensuring that a situation like this can never happens again. Sinn Fein is bringing forward a Private Members Bill on Traceability to the Dail this week were are seeking to bring in changes in legislation that will tighten up the entire food chain and restore confidence to the Irish public."
Martin Ferris concluded, " It is important that our Assembly and Dail teams work closely together and I welcome the fact that this meeting with our Minister in the north is taking place and Sinn Fein as a party will do its upmost to protect the integrity of Irish farming and of the quality of Irish food."