The Special investigations unit at the Department of Agriculture is continuing its investigations into a meat plant in Co Tipperary.

Yesterday, the company was found to be exporting some horse meat labelled as beef to the Czech Republic.

The Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin today called on the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to step aside from the horse meat issue saying he has misread the gravity and scale of the issue.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said that the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in conjunction with the gardaí are conducting a detailed and complex investigation.

He said that is progressing well and getting to the bottom of the issue from an Irish perspective.

Minister Coveney said that this investigation is independent and feeds into the Department.

He said, if Mr Martin would like a briefing on the investigation at this stage to get a full understanding of the complexity involved the Department would be happy to facilitate that.

Minister Coveney said: "this issue needs strong political leadership as well as a detailed investigation and a strong policy response at both a national and European level. Ireland is leading that response and will continue to do so."

The Minister has already arranged a meeting with the Commissioner and seven other European Ministers that resulted in an EU wide DNA testing programme.

Minister Coveney has also ensured that there will be a full debate on the issue at next Monday's EU Council of Ministers meeting.

Bord Bía says it is too early to assess the implications for Ireland of this latest development.

Sinn Féin has also called for an independent inquiry.

Elsewhere, French President Francois Hollande has called for compulsory labelling and traceability of meat used in processed foods in Europe to prevent a repeat of the horsemeat scandal.

French and German agriculture ministers said yesterday that they agreed on the need for origin labelling.

They said that they would try to find a deal on meat traceability at a meeting of European farm ministers in Brussels on Monday.