Sunday 25 September 2016

Profile: Kennedy thought his days in high-profile office were over

Published 20/04/2016 | 02:30

Newly elected IFA deputy president Richard Kennedy is
congratulated by his wife Helen. Photo: Finbarr O’Rourke
Newly elected IFA deputy president Richard Kennedy is congratulated by his wife Helen. Photo: Finbarr O’Rourke

Richard Kennedy, the IFA's new deputy president, is a Limerick dairy farmer who was considered something of a long shot. Not least because of the fact the former dairy chairman had previously declared he was finished with holding high-profile office in the organisation.

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That was after losing out to John Bryan in the 2009 presidential election. But the Munster man has farm politics in his blood, having cut his teeth in the art during his days in Macra na Feirme, which he led during the 1980s.

However, his plan to see out his days farming 300 acres with his son, James, at Clarina, changed suddenly when the organisation he prized so much was in danger of tearing itself apart during the pay revelations before Christmas.

"Three or four months ago I wouldn't have seen myself here. But I felt that I had lost something, and I felt vulnerable. I felt if I didn't have the IFA there, I would have no one to speak for me," he told supporters when his win was announced in the count centre yesterday.

"I believe passionately in the IFA, and I believe it is critical to our survival, so I decided to put my hand up and see where it took me. It was an extremely tough campaign, but it was necessary. I know my job is only beginning. I know my role is to support the new president," said the 64-year-old.

Mr Kennedy was elected on the second count, after the elimination of Monaghan's Nigel Reneghan in the first count.

Mr Kennedy secured just over 50pc of the vote to edge out the other remaining candidate, Pat Farrell, from Kildare.

He said he knew it would be tough for the losing candidates and their families over the coming days - referring to his own loss during the 2009 election.

"None are failures, they have done serious work for the organisation," he added.

Irish Independent

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