Farm Ireland

Saturday 18 November 2017

IFA members stage walk out on Fianna Fail TD

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Up to 10 IFA members walked out in protest at the North Tipperary IFA AGM this week over guest speaker Fianna Fail TD Jackie Cahill.

According to sources at the meeting, an initial objection to Cahill was raised around an allegation that Cahill, when he was involved in ICMSA, had broken an IFA picket some 20 years ago.

Others then objected to the presence of Cahill on political grounds.

On the night, up to 10 people walked out before Cahill stood up to address the meeting, including one former county chairman – Mattie Butler – but another five former county chairmen remained.

Cahill explained to the meeting that the beet pulp incident had occurred approximately 20 years ago and that he had ordered the pulp in good faith that it was ‘passing a picket’ which was taking place around the same time.

Cahill also said this was the fourth or fifth IFA meeting that he has been invited to address since becoming a TD for North Tipperary last year.

IFA North Tipperary Chairman Tim Cullinane, who invited Cahill to the AGM, defended this decision to invite Cahill and said other politicians from other political parties have been invited to and have spoken at previous North Tipperary IFA meetings. “We have had Alan Kelly and Noel Coonan talk at events previously and there was no issue.”

North Tipperary IFA Executive President Philp Kinane, who confirmed that a number of people left the room, said he did not object to Jackie Cahill speaking on the night, but did voice his reservations at the meeting.

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He told that the tradition in North Tipperary has always been that if one political party is invited to an event, all political parties are invited.

“We have deviated dramatically from that policy,” he said.

Guests at North Tipperary IFA meetings, he said, are generally non political. “That is how NFA (IFA’s former name) was organised from the start – to get politics out of farmer representation. And that policy has served the organisation well.”

Kinane said the decision to invite Cahill was a “solo” one but that he did not raise any objection to the decision before or during the meeting.

“The decision came as a surprise to me. By the time I knew Jackie was the speaker the letters were in the post.”

Sources at the meeting said Kinane and Cullinane had a sharp exchange at the meeting over Cullinane’s choice of speaker, but Kinane insisted it was “not a row”.

“There was no row. There has not been a row in many, many years in North Tipperary IFA executive – not in my memory. I had reservations about what happened last night and voiced them at the meeting.”

Both Cullinane and Kinane were re-elected as North Tipperary IFA Chairman and Executive President on the night.

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