Going to the wire to avoid media maul

TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern went to the wire on Plot 20 at the World Ploughing Championships in Grangeford, Tullow, Co Carlow, yesterday.

After flying into the 600-acre site in a helicopter, he was driven in a jeep to the world contest grounds where he met with Liam O’Driscoll, the Republic’s competitor in the reversible competition.

He walked across to the perimeter wire and chatted with the 24-year-old plant hire contractor from Knockbrown, Bandon, Co Cork, for a few minutes.

The smiling Taoiseach also spoke with Liam’s father, Jackie O’Driscoll, a noted ploughman, and with Gebhard Betz, Germany, a head steward with the World Ploughing Organisation.

What became a rolling media maul sought Mr Ahern’s latest comments on political events. But they had as much success as a person playing handball against a reek of hay — there was little in the way of a response.

The Taoiseach visited a number of stands and the National Ploughing Association headquarters during his hour-long visit to the event.

As he left, the flags of the 28 competing nations continued to flutter in the breeze. By this evening, two world champions will be declared — one in the conventional category and the other in the reversible.

A total of 56 competitors are taking part in the world contest with Irish hopes pinned on 37-year-old Eamon Treacy, Garryhill, Co Carlow, and Liam O’Driscoll in the reversible class.

Away from the ploughing plots, the European Commission and Agri Aware looked to the future by bringing more than 80 children from primary schools in Carlow, Laois and Wexford to the site, where they were presented with prizes in an art competition.

Winning pupils were presented with prizes and certificates by Martin Territt, director of the European Commission Representation in Ireland and Agri Aware chairwoman Máiréad Lavery.

Ms Lavery said the initiative was designed to encourage children to explore food production and the main farming activities that sustain the livelihoods of Europe’s 11 million farm families.

Meanwhile, chartered physiotherapist Laura Keane, at the invitation of Teagasc and the Health and Safety Authority, provided back-care advice to farmers in the Farm Safety Village.

“Watch your back,” was the catchy line on the publicity handout for the service — but the message was directed at farmers and had nothing to do with the political happenings of the day.

More in this section