Farmers, families and funerals split over the running of a small Kerry co-op
A group of North Kerry farmers seeks fundamental change at Newtownsandes Co-op after 50 years of 'old-school-boy' management
Concerns over the future viability of Newtownsandes Co-op have sent ruptures throughout a small rural community in north Kerry.
From dance-floors at local weddings, to GAA matches, school playgrounds, pubs, shops and even funeral processions, farmers, and their families, are divided on the way the creamery, located in the intense dairy parish of Moyvane, is run.
Although the co-op is currently seeking applications for a new general manager, the group claim an "old boys club" mentality has emerged among many board of management members over the last five decades.
As such, they claim that young, outside candidates with fresh innovative ideas are being overlooked for the position.
The group, known as the Newtownsandes Farmers Alliance, are demanding fundamental change and a complete overhaul of the committee of management from the top down.
The co-op is one of the smallest in the country with 71 milk suppliers and 200 shareholders in the area. It trades with Kerry Group and North Cork.
Chief concerns of the group - consisting of 30 local farmers aged from 25-70 years who claim to account for 50pc of supply to the co-op - include: the "refusal" of Michael Liston, former general manager, to step away from the co-op where he has been at the helm for 50 years.
Mr Liston, who is almost 80, officially retired three years ago, however, the group claims he still has strong influence in the daily running of the business.