Viewpoint: Go to your local IFA hustings for a taste of real politics
Published 16/02/2016 | 02:30
The hustings for the IFA presidential election have been pretty tumultous affairs to date.
Those of us who travelled to Lawlor's Hotel in Dungarvan last Thursday night rather than tuning into the General Election party leaders' television debate definitely chose by far the livelier show.
Many of the farmers attending the presidential debates are taking opportunity to ask probing questions of the organisation and its potential new leaders faced with the tough task of winning back farmers' trust.
It appears the 29 hustings are going to act as a conduit - in a way that the county meetings failed to do so - for all the anger, hurt and frustration felt by many long-standing IFA members over the recent pay controversy.
The three presidential candidates, Flor McCarthy, Joe Healy and Henry Burns, and the three deputy candidates - Nigel Renaghan, Richard Kennedy and Pat Farrell - have heard vocal criticism of the organisation from farmers demanding real change.
In Waterford, the former IFA national dairy chairman Kevin Kiersey clearly voiced the frustrations farmers feel over the whole pay controversy as he demanded disclosure on salaries and other remuneration paid to past presidents and Michael Berkery who served as IFA general secretary for over 25 years.
Other farmers claimed there is an east/west divide in the IFA, while others wanted total clarity on the levies being collected for the IFA by factories, dairies and marts.