Farm probes unit 'not out of control', says top official
The Department of Agriculture has denied operating an "out of control" special investigations unit (SIU) following claims by farmers of victimisation and illegal practices.
The unit has been roundly criticised by the Irish Farmers Association for the manner in which it investigated a number of cases.
Costs of €154,000 were awarded against the state in six cases taken following SIU investigations between 2006 and 2014, the Dáil's spending watchdog has heard.
However, the department's secretary general, Aidan O'Driscoll, told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) he did not accept allegations that the unit was "out of control" and "answerable to nobody".
He said: "There is no unit in the Department of Agriculture and the Marine that is out of control."
Mr O'Driscoll was responding to claims made by seven farmers, who briefed TDs on their experiences of being investigated by the SIU in a private meeting of the committee last month.
A report, detailing the allegations made by the farmers, was provided to the department by the committee.
It included claims that a farmer was ordered to kill his own pigs using a lump hammer.