Meat lobby group appointment is 'breach of protocol' claims Ó Cuív
Published 20/05/2015 | 02:30
The Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, has come under pressure to clarify his position on the appointment of a former assistant secretary at his department as a top lobbyist for the meat processing industry.
Philip Carroll retired from his position as assistant secretary of the department in December, before being appointed as chair of IBEC's Meat Industry Ireland (MII) lobby group.
"This appears to be a clear breach of protocol for retiring public servants, and I am calling on the Minister for Agriculture to clarify his position on this matter," said Fianna Fail's agriculture spokesman, Éamon Ó Cuív.
"Farmer confidence in the beef industry is at an all-time low, with profitability still on a knife-edge. The appointment of such a high-level insider to a lobby group for the already powerful meat processors only serves to confirm farmers' convictions that they are not working on a level playing pitch," he added.
In addition to his roles in the Department of Agriculture's beef and dairy policy divisions, Mr Carroll was responsible for the management of the now disbanded Special Investigation Unit (SIU) which will be the subject of a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing on June 16.
The Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour states that retiring civil servants should sit out a 'cooling-off' period of at least 12 months before accepting jobs that could lead to a conflict of interest.
Legislation has already been passed on making cooling- off periods mandatory for senior public servants, but this will not become law until September.
MII claimed that this legislation should not apply in Mr Carroll's case, since MII was a trade association.
"Mr Carroll is fully aware of, and is compliant with, all relevant responsibilities and obligations on him as a former civil servant, in the context of his new role as non-executive chairman of Meat Industry Ireland," they said in a statement. The Department of Agriculture brushed off queries about the appointment, stating that it was an issue for Mr Carroll alone.