Just three candidates battle for top job in IFA as field is whittled down
The race is on to lead the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) out of the pay controversy, with just three entering the presidential fray.
In a day of twists and turns, a clear winner failed to emerge in the fight for the final and fourth spot for the top job in the farm body.
The pressure was on as the clock ticked down to yesterday's deadline as the last two potential runners - the current IFA deputy president Tim O'Leary and Carlow county chair and beef farmer Derek Deane - tried to secure enough support to enter the fray as the final candidate. In the end, the frantic phonecalls failed to deliver and both farmers were one short of the required support of six counties to take the final ticket.
Farmers will be asked to vote in the first two weeks in April on which of the three farmers - Laoisman Henry Burns, Galway's Joe Healy and Kerry native Flor McCarthy -they would like to see lead the organisation.
It will be a tough task ahead as many farmers have voiced their anger after it emerged former general secretary Pat Smith's pay package was worth almost €1m over two years.
Former president Eddie Downey, who stepped down from his post, said he had approval when reaching a controversial €2m severance agreement with Mr Smith as he left the organisation.
Henry Burns, whose role as IFA livestock chairman has seen him engage with farmers throughout the country, said his love for representing farmers had brought him into the race.