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Saturday 3 December 2016

Profile: He may be seen as an 'outsider' - but that worked to his advantage

Published 20/04/2016 | 02:30

Joe Healy takes part in the Irish International Open Sheep Shearing Championship in 2011. Photo: Alf Harveyrole
Joe Healy takes part in the Irish International Open Sheep Shearing Championship in 2011. Photo: Alf Harveyrole

It's over 20 years since Joe Healy first stepped onto the national stage as president of Macra na Feirme.

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But in the intervening years, the third generation farmer, who milks 90 cows on the home farm in Athenry and also finishes cattle, has widened his wings.

The former All Ireland sheep shearer steadily built up the farm, which himself and his wife Margaret, a nurse manager, and daughters Nicole (15), Kiara (14) and Anna (11) call home. His mother Bridie also lives with them after his father Paddy, a famous Galway sheep breeder, passed away 11 years ago.

Described as a "very able person" and a "steady pair of hands", his support was clearly evident in the number of farmers who went to campaign for him.

He may be seen as an outsider as he is not on the IFA's national executive, but this appears to have worked to his advantage.

He was Macra president from 1995 to 1997. He went on to become the vice-president of the European Young Farmers association.

His weekly cattle and sheep marts column in the 'Farming Independent' was often critical of the meat processors and also carried many a sporting reference. In addition to being a former mart manager, he has taken a role on the IFA farm business committee and chaired the commonages appeals committee.

He was also elected a farmer board member of the Farmer Business Developments for which he got €3,595 after tax last year.

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However, despite all the experience garnered, the biggest challenges may lie ahead as he works to unite the association after the fallout from the pay controversy.

His boots are already on the ground as first up today is a meeting of the IFA dairy committee with Glanbia.

Then he'll be packing his bag for meetings in Brussels.

It's a trip he'll be making often in the coming months.

Irish Independent



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