'It's like an All-Ireland for Galway' - farmer Joe Healy wins IFA president race on first count
A farmer from the West of Ireland has won the race to be the 15th president of the Irish Farmers' Association for the first time in 20 years.
Galway dairy and cattle farmer Joe Healy will be tasked with rebuilding the organisation following a pay controversy that caused ripples throughout the farming community.
Mr Healy (49), who was seen as an outsider to the IFA farm centre as he was not on the national executive, secured over 50pc to be elected on the first count.
A chorus of the Fields of Athenry rang out at the Castleknock Hotel in Dublin 15 after he surpassed the quota of 14,047 with 14,122 votes, ahead of the other candidates Laois man Henry Burns on 8,540 and Kerry's Flor McCarthy on 5,431.
"The first thing on the agenda and the priority always for the IFA is farm incomes and a margin there for farm families, as at the moment almost all commodities are selling below the cost of production," said Mr Healy, a former Macra na Feirme president and marts columnist with the Farming Independent.
"I wouldn't underestimate the challenge that it is. It is enormous the challenge because there is a challenge within the organisation there is a lot of sorting out to be done within the organisation. There is a lot of credibility to be restored and trust to be rebuilt."
Mr Healy said he believes the farmers have "spoken quite clearly" with their vote and sent out a clear message.
He pointed out that he had talked about the need for "transparency" throughout the hustings and he sees an "awful lot of good in the organisation".