Sunday 28 December 2014

Senator invested in firm that uncovered horse-meat scandal

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Published 28/02/2013 | 05:00

INDEPENDENT Senator Feargal Quinn has emerged as one of the first investors in the Irish DNA testing company which revealed the horse-meat scandal.

Newly-released Seanad documents show he has been an investor in Identigen – which carried out the DNA testing on frozen beef burgers for the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.

Mr Quinn said he had come across the company more than a decade ago during his time in charge of Superquinn.

He said he had been so impressed with its DNA tracing system for the supermarket's fresh beef that he decided to invest in the firm.

"We were delighted to get involved, and I think it's going to be very successful in the years ahead," he said.

But ironically, Mr Quinn sold his private shareholding in Identigen Ltd last year to other investors – before testing led to the revelation of the European-wide horse-meat scandal.

"You don't win them all. The investors were only interested if they got a large enough shareholding. So we stepped out of it, but we were there for the first 10 or 15 years," he said.

Rules

Under Seanad rules, every senator is required to declare their ownership of second homes and shares and investments worth over €13,000, to prevent any potential conflict of interest.

They also have to declare any gifts by companies or individuals.

The latest Seanad declarations for 2012 show that Professor John Crown had his flights and hotel accommodation for four cancer care conferences in the US and Europe paid for by big pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and Novartis. Prof Crown, who donates his €65,000 Seanad salary to a cancer research charity, said this was the only way to get to the conferences.

"In Europe, we don't have budgets from our hospitals or medical schools to go to those conferences, so every consultant who goes is sponsored," he said.

And Prof Crown said he did not believe it would prevent him from speaking out on issues such as the cost of the drugs bill.

"The single biggest income I have is the HSE and have I been slow in criticising them?" he said.

Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway and Labour Senator John Kelly revealed in their declarations that they have been given flights and bed-and-breakfast accommodation worth almost €400 by a group dedicated to replacing the religious dictatorship in Iran with a democracy.

The British Parliamentary Society for the Freedom of Iran brought them to a conference attended by 100,000 people in Paris last June.

Mr Kelly said he supported the restoration of democracy in Iran – and that the trip had not cost the taxpayer a penny.

The conference was also attended by former Taoiseach John Bruton, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Irish Independent

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