Sparks fly in ICSA election campaign
Presidency candidates 'neck and neck'
The ICSA election campaign is heating up, with current president Patrick Kent and his Limerick-based challenger Seamus Sherlock believed to be "neck and neck" in the race.
The election process means that whoever wins over a majority of the organisation's 114 national executive members when they vote on December 14 will take the spoils.
A nationwide series of ICSA county executive meetings is coming to a close, with one source claiming the "old guard" were swept out as voting got underway for county executive positions.
A complaint has been lodged with the ICSA regarding procedures following voting at the recent Tipperary county executive meeting.
ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch confirmed that the management committee would meet on the issues raised. He said that anyone who votes in the ICSA election is a paid-up member.
"Whether they joined the ICSA a week ago, a year ago or a decade ago doesn't make any difference. Once you have paid you are entitled to the benefits and privileges of membership," he said.
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.
With claims of new recruits joining on the night of AGMs and voting, Mr Sherlock said he and his family members have been working to recruit new people in each county.
However, he stressed that he had been "pushing membership" ever since he joined the organisation, as should all of those on the executive.
"Commodity prices are the big issue - a lot of people just aren't making money. Beef farmers are losing money. The big one at the minute is how are we going to get the prices to rise," said Mr Sherlock. "There is no quick answer."
Mr Kent said the debate and discussion among members that the election had engendered was "certainly good for the organisation".
He said a "huge job of work remained to be done" and that he is the man to remain at the ICSA's helm to do it. Mr Kent claimed that the current prices being returned for both beef and lamb were too low.
However, the support of delegates has still to be won and one ICSA insider commented that the election will be decided by the 20pc of national executive members who have not plumped as yet for either camp.
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