Wednesday 28 September 2016

Full IFA elections as executive board caves in to pressure

Louise Hogan and Darragh Mccullough

Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30

IFA's Henry Burns, pictured at a previous protest, is confident he will be in the IFA presidential race.
IFA's Henry Burns, pictured at a previous protest, is confident he will be in the IFA presidential race.

The IFA is moving into election mode as the entire executive board has agreed to a full-scale vote for all positions pending a change in the rules amid mounting pressure.

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The six-man board said it had agreed to allow a full round of fresh elections for all the national officer positions alongside the presidential election in the "best interests of the association".

A proposal will be put on the table at today's national council meeting to revert to two terms of two-years.

This would mean the current board - including deputy president Tim O'Leary, Munster regional chair James McCarthy, South Leinster chair James Murphy, Ulster/North Leinster chair Bert Stewart and Connacht chair Tom Turley- could put themselves forward for a second term. The position held by Jer Bergin of national treasurer is generally decided at the AGM.

The board's decision to go forward for elections comes after increased pressure in recent days with a number of county boards passing various motions calling for the entire board to go.

Richard Connell, chair of Cork West, said a county meeting on Saturday had demanded a full round of elections.

"There was a big call that the full board should step down and get a new mandate," he said.

It is expected that a protest due to be staged outside the association's headquarters in Dublin will not go ahead.

In addition, the 53-member national council will be asked to vote on changes to rules for the date of the presidential election to allow the council to vote on the best time to stage the contest.

To date, seven candidates have sought nominations for the presidency. However, with each person required to get the nomination of six county chairs it means just four can enter the race.

Henry Burns, the chair of IFA livestock committee, said he was "confident" he would be in the race and added he had support from all over the country.

Carlow IFA chair, Derek Deane, who lead the charge for more information on the salary of the general secretary, also sounded a confident note.

Former Macra president, Joe Healy, has secured all the nominations required.

"I've had a good show of support from the north-west of the country but also quite a lot from throughout the other counties," said Mr Healy, who compiles the Farming Independent's Ringside marts column.

IFA rural development chair Flor McCarthy said he had secured a number of nominations.

IFA poultry chair Nigel Reneghan noted that the soon-to-be vacated position of deputy president provided new election openings for candidates. The current deputy president Tim O'Leary and North Tipperary chair Tim Cullinan have also been canvassing ahead of tomorrow's deadline.

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