Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
925. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if his attention has been drawn to reports concerning his officials accepting a letter in respect of a person from another Minister (details supplied); if the attention of the Secretary General of his Department was drawn to the letter being accepted by officials; the directions and-or correspondence generated as a result of accepting the letter; if it was considered in the course of the involvement of his Department in a case regarding instances of animal cruelty; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2821/20]
The letter referred to, addressed to Minister Humphreys dated 22 January, was delivered to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, on January 24th. The letter was forwarded to the Secretary General’s office who immediately passed it on to the relevant line manager for consideration. The Deputy should be aware that no political representations were made in relation to the correspondence.
The decision not to proceed further with prosecution in this case was taken having regard to the full and individual circumstances of this case. Department officials had worked closely with the family of the individual concerned during 2018 and 2019 to bring about a satisfactory resolution of the animal welfare and related issues on this farm, and this positive and constructive engagement led to progressive resolution of the issues. The final resolution of all welfare and related issues was concluded to the full satisfaction of my Department in October 2019 and a further inspection in December 2019 confirmed the ongoing satisfactory situation on the farm.
Having reviewed all aspects of the case in consultation with relevant divisions within my Department, including legal services and local office management, a decision was taken by senior management not to proceed with the prosecution in this case. Animal welfare cases can be complex and difficult, with a range of human as well as animal factors to be considered, and I am grateful to all those who contributed to the successful resolution of this case.
It is important to clarify that Prosecutors are not legally compelled to pursue all prosecution cases to a final conclusion in the courts. Occasionally, there will be instances where the facts of a case are such that proceeding with a prosecution may not be considered desirable, appropriate or justifiable. Prosecution cases can be withdrawn for a variety of reasons. For example, decisions can be made to withdraw prosecutions based on legal advice, or as a result of a changes in circumstances or personnel of a business or the operator of a business, or because of a satisfactory resolution of the original issues that were the subject of the prosecution or, where appropriate, on humanitarian or compassionate grounds.
It is entirely a matter for the Department to decide when it is and when it is not appropriate to proceed with a prosecution against an individual. My Department takes its prosecutorial functions very seriously and exercises prudent and careful judgement in deciding how best to manage prosecutions brought in the name of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.