Minister gives hope to workers who fear for their jobs
AGRICULTURE Minister Simon Coveney insisted there is a future for the workers at Larry Goodman's Silvercrest plant despite its "totally unacceptable" role in the horse meat scandal.
He criticised the Monaghan company for knowingly using non-approved suppliers for its frozen beef burgers, one of which was found to contain 29pc horse meat.
But Mr Coveney said the factory was probably the best plant of its type in Europe.
"There is no reason why, given the changes needed to facilitate this, this plant can't continue to employ all of the people there at the moment and continue to produce more than 200 million burgers per year," he said.
The 112 staff have been on full pay since production at the Ballybay plant was halted two months ago. But they face an uncertain future after Tesco, Burger King and the Co-Op cancelled contracts.
Mr Coveney said he was concerned at the failure of beef baron Larry Goodman's ABP company, which owns Silvercrest, to maintain proper oversight of the company.
The minister promised a garda investigation into a meat trader who operates on both sides of the border. But he told the Dail the firm in question wasn't McAdam – the Monaghan food company that supplied raw materials used in Silvercrest beef products.
During his Dail response to the interim report into the scandal, he criticised QK Meats in Kildare, for "knowingly withholding information" about the discovery of horse DNA in frozen beef trimmings imported from Poland.
Mr Coveney added that another company, B&F Meats in Thomastown, Kilkenny, was involved in mislabelling of horse meat for export to the Czech Republic.