Denis Lehane: Nigel Renaghan demands ‘fair share of the final price’ for produce

The first deputy presidential candidate speaker at Ballincollig was Nigel Renaghan, a beef and poultry farmer from Co Monaghan.

With his microphone spluttering as he began, I feared we were in for a night of poor reception.

However, I was wrong, because the microphone was quickly whipped into shape by this proficient public speaker, who is the current IFA national poultry chairman.

His message was straight- forward and clear, demanding “our fair share of the final price.”

Another issue he raised was Teagasc pensions.

“€40m of your money, goes into Teagasc pensions,” he told the gathering.

Mr Renaghan said general election candidates have assured him they will look for Teagasc pensions to be funded from the national exchequer, rather than from agriculture funding. “

Your money can then be used for research education and development in agriculture,” he said.

You’d imagine this confident speaker could move effortlessly from the farmyard to the RTÉ studios.

* IFA deputy candidate Pat Farrell farms in Co Kildare — I was told he is a quiet spoken man — “but don’t let that fool you, he’s an able operator.”

Pat’s message was about finishing the job he started. And what job did he start?

“I was one of the first who endorsed a motion of no confidence in the previous general secretary, because a change was required and ordinary IFA members needed a voice,” he said.

“If elected, I will be a reforming deputy president,” Pat said.

“I will seek the appointment of a new general secretary who puts farm incomes first.” Pat Farrell is the current Kildare and west Wicklow IFA county chairman.

* Richard Kennedy, also seeking the post of deputy president, is by far the longest- serving IFA candidate on the list. He spoke about his life-long involvement with the IFA, highlighting how vital the IFA is to the farmer, and the need to “fix” the IFA.

“I passionately believe that we farmers need trust, credibility and stability restored in IFA. I want to be on the team that will fix what is broken, restore trust, and establish accountability.

Richard Kennedy was National Dairy chairman from 2006 to 2010 and ran for election as president in 2009. He told members in Ballincollig that the IFA wouldn’t have the problems that it now has, if he had been elected president in 2009.

The choice on offer in these IFA elections has never been so varied, from veterans to new kids on the block.

These are important days for the organisation. The IFA is at a crossroads. This election for president and deputy president is not only important for those fighting for the position, but perhaps for the very future of the organisation itself.


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