Farm Ireland

Thursday 22 March 2018

Election fever takes hold of farming groups

The ICSA president Patrick Kent
The ICSA president Patrick Kent

The seasonal festive cheer has been put on ice in the farm organisations for a week, with election fever taking hold.

New presidents will be elected by both the ICSA and ICMSA over the next fortnight, while the IFA is already in the throes of voting for a regional chairman for Ulster-North Leinster.

The race is also on for the crucial position of IFA national treasurer which has attracted a heavyweight line-up of candidates.

The ICSA election has gathered pace over the last few weeks, as regional ballots have taken place around the country to choose the association's 114-member national executive, which will elect the association's leader.

Patrick Kent has been president for the past four years and can continue for a further two years should he win the election. However, he is facing a serious challenge from the ICSA's rural development chairman, Seamus Sherlock.

ICSA insiders maintain that the vote is still too tight to call. The crucial national executive vote takes place on Thursday, December 14.

Meanwhile, Tipperary farmer Pat McCormack is the sole candidate so far in the race to succeed John Comer as leader of the ICMSA.

The deadline for nominations for the role of president and deputy president is this Friday, December 8.

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Within the IFA, voting has begun in the race to replace Bert Stewart as the Ulster-North Leinster regional chair.

The election has pitted Monaghan poultry farmer and former poultry chair Nigel Renaghan, against outgoing Cavan county chair James Speares.

The seven-county region includes the three Ulster counties in the Republic - Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal - as well as Meath, Louth, Longford and Westmeath.

Voting kicked off last week, with the last ballot scheduled for Thursday, December 14. The count will then take place the following day.

A contest that is provoking strong interest within the IFA is that for the association's national treasurer. The election to succeed Jer Bergin, who has completed his term in the post, has attracted a strong field, with five high-profile candidates expressing an interest.

These include the outgoing farm family and social affairs chair Maura Canning; outgoing Galway county chair Pat Murphy; outgoing national dairy committee chair Sean O'Leary; outgoing North Tipperary chair Tim Cullinan; and James Murphy, the outgoing chair of the association's renewables project team.

This will be a fascinating contest as all five candidates are seasoned campaigners at national council level within the IFA. They also have strong regional and sectoral support bases, which will be crucial in an election where staying in the race through the first two rounds of voting will be the key.

The vote is confined to IFA national council members, which number around 55, and will take place at the association's AGM in mid-January.

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