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Thursday 27 April 2017

IFA issues apology to prominent farmer over 'smear' campaign

IFA President Joe Healy pictured with Bryan Barry, IFA Assistant General Secretary and Richard Kennedy Deputy President. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
IFA President Joe Healy pictured with Bryan Barry, IFA Assistant General Secretary and Richard Kennedy Deputy President. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath

Martin Ryan

A prominent Limerick farmer, who alleges he was the victim of a personalised ‘smear campaign’ to prevent his election to county office, has received a public apology from IFA Deputy President, Richard Kennedy and Limerick County Chairman, Shay Galvin on behalf of the IFA.

The alleged campaign against Pallaskenry beef producer, Donal O’Brien was described as ‘disgusting’, ‘disgraceful’, and ‘shameful’ when cited as ‘an issue that went out of control and was appalling from a personal point of view’ by his fellow farmers when the matter was aired at a meeting of Limerick County Executive at Adare.

Mr O’Brien told the meeting: “All I want now is my good name restored, a public apology by IFA and the people who destroyed my name, and I believe the only hope of this is an independent enquiry” adding “I believe that there was a conspiracy to destroy my name”.  

He claimed that he had been the subject of allegations of “a lot of shady deals when buying land”; as well as “damage to a property”, being  “arrested and jailed” and rumours about his health, family life, and other allegations “so distasteful that I won’t even mention them” all of which were “totally untrue” and without a shred of substance.

The rumours were alleged to have circulated last month when he campaigned in the election of county chairman, in which he was an unsuccessful candidate at the February AGM.

However, he commended newly elected county chairman, Shay Galvin, who defeated him the election for “running a clean campaign” and accepted his assurance that he was not party to any of the allegations.

In a carefully pre-prepared statement read to the meeting, he said “there are a number of people who were involved in this smear campaign. I am not going to embarrass you and name you here tonight, but you all know who you are”.

He added: “Some of you might say, this is only sour grapes. This is not true.

"I have lost all trust in IFA and I do not feel wanted or appreciated by the organisation. How people could stoop so low to destroy a fellow member's character, I will never know and for what, to keep me out of the county executive when my only motive was to help my fellow farmers?” 

Farmers attending the meeting were shocked by the allegations and several rallied to condemn the actions and offer support for Mr O’Brien, who is a regular attendee of meetings and has been a strong campaigner for IFA for many years, some stressing “there are not enough Donal O’Brien’s in our organisation”. 

They described as “shameful” and “disgusting”  any such action against a farmer “who had done more for IFA”, and is a former member of the IFA National Livestock Committee.

IFA Deputy President, Richard Kennedy who was present told him: “I am very sorry for everything said against you and apologise (on behalf of the IFA) because I know well the good that you and the people before you have done and I hope that you can leave it behind you now”.

Limerick County Chairman, Shay Galvin, said: “I was not against you or tried to keep you out, and I apologise on behalf of the executive for any smear campaign” which he emphasised should not have occurred."

Mr O’Brien said: “As soon as I put up my head the dirt flew, because they were afraid that I would rock the boat too much and I was not wanted in Dublin. That is a sad day for this organisation – when we should be all together fighting for our fellow farmers”.


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