Galway's Joe Healy in pole position for IFA presidency role with over 10,000 votes
THE RACE to become the next president of the Irish Farmers' Association is heating up, with Galway dairy farmer Joe Healy firmly in the lead with over 10,000 votes.
The three farmers bidding to be the 15th president of the farming body following a pay controversy have pledged changes to the organisation during the countrywide hustings debates.
Mr Healy, who was seen as an outsider to the IFA farm centre as he was not on the national executive, had said the IFA presidency needed a fresh voice to restore the faith of farmers.
Members had been left angered over pay within the organisation that saw former general secretary Pat Smith leave the organisation after it emerged his pay package amounted to almost €1m over two years.
The election is underway to fill the seat of former president Eddie Downey, who attended yesterday's count, and stepped down after the pay controversy erupted late last year.
Mr Healy, a dairy and cattle farmer from Athenry, has established a firm lead on 10,063 votes with, 79pc of the votes counted or 745 branches.
Laois farmer Henry Burns, the livestock chairman of the IFA, made up ground as the midlands boxes were opened to secure 6,065 votes.
Kerry’s Flor McCarthy, the IFA’s rural development chairman, was behind him on 5,308.