Profile: Damian McDonald the man who got the biggest job in farming
Published 24/11/2016 | 16:00
His friends say he is a "smart guy who is usually two steps in front of the game " and will be "well up" to the challenge of his new job as director general at the IFA.
They are also adamant that Damian McDonald is not known to collect enemies.
The 44-year-old Wexford man, who takes up the €213,100-a-year package in Bluebell in January, is effectively swapping his job at Horse Sport Ireland with its €6m annual budget and 28 staff for an organisation twice that size.
The IFA had a €13m turnover, 70 staff and more than 80,000 voluntary members this time last year. Events in the interim have severely hit those numbers, and so the level of scrutiny from remaining members will be greater than ever.
McDonald will have a much bigger in-tray at the IFA come January than he currently has at Horse Sport Ireland, where his end-of-year tasks include the re-appointment of high performance coaches for our elite Olympic show jumpers and riders, and the scheduling of next year's show jumping in greyhound stadiums.
The latter was an idea he successfully developed over the past two years, following a suggestion by former agriculture minister Simon Coveney.
McDonald has blue chip qualifications for the fraught IFA position. He comes from solid farming stock, hailing from a dairy, beef and pig enterprise at Crossabeg, just north of Wexford town. But he has also served his time within the agricultural policy and lobbying world of Bluebell.