BALLOTING to elect the next president of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) began last night. The first votes were cast in more than 70 of the IFA’s 947 branches countrywide.
Voting will continue in the other branches up to December 16 and the national count will take place in Dublin on December 21. Among the branches voting last night were Ardrahan, Co Galway, and Banagher, Co Offaly, both of which have been seriously affected by the recent flooding.
IFA national returning officer Ruaidhri Deasy said he expected a large turnout despite the recent difficulties farmers have experienced in the area.
“Members of IFA take the election of a president very seriously and will be anxious to have their say in deciding who succeeds Padraig Walshe to become the 13th holder of the office,” he said.
Mr Deasy said IFA members have turned out in force to assist neighbours in the last week’s floods and they will do likewise over the next fortnight to vote.
Other branches that voted last night included Achill Island in Mayo, Valentia Island in Co Kerry, Malin in Donegal, Bere Island in Co Cork, Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, Bannow, Co Wexford and Arva-Gowna, Co Cavan.
The series of IFA presidential debates came to a close when Wexford and Wicklow hosted the final gathering of the candidates at the Wexford Farm Centre in Enniscorthy.
Three candidates are seeking to be elected president of the 87,000-member IFA for a four-year term.
They are John Bryan, Kilkenny chairman, Derek Deane, Carlow, deputy president, and Richard Kennedy, Limerick, national dairy committee chairman.
Elections are also taking part for the deputy presidency with Meath chairman Eddie Downey and Munster vice president Sean O’Leary, north Cork, as candidates. Regional vice presidents are also being elected.
Meanwhile, the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) has postponed its AGM and conference due to take place tomorrow night in Limerick. This was due to many roads along the western seaboard being impassable due to flooding.
Malcolm Thompson, president, said the ICSA had decided to concentrate its efforts over the coming days on flood relief. The AGM will take place in early January.
It has also emerged that Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association president Jackie Cahill is to be challenged for that position by former president Pat O’Rourke at the AGM of its national council meeting in Limerick on December 17.
There are also two declared contenders to succeed John O’Leary as deputy president: beef committee chairman Martin McMahon, Clare, and farm services committee chairman John Comer, Mayo.
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