Farmers to recreate 1966 march for rights

IFA president Eddie Downey
IFA president Eddie Downey

Martin Ryan

Thousands of farmers from the four corners of the country are to participate in a marathon march in 2016 as the IFA invites members to take part in a re-enactment to commemorate the famous farmer's rights march of 1966.

Plans are already being formulated by the organisation for the march, which, unlike the event of half a century ago, will be carried out in relay format, with the objective to raise funds for deserving charities, as opposed to the demand for negotiating rights for farmers in 1966.

IFA president Eddie Downey said 1966 was an important year for farmer politics because they had to march from one end of the country to the other "in order to get recognition from the Government - to get a Minister for Agriculture to speak to them" which would change the course of relationships between farmers and government.

On October 7, 1966, NFA president and North Tipperary farmer Rickard Deasy set out to lead farmers on a 217-mile march from Bantry to Dublin, with farmers groups from other parts of the country converging in on the capital.

By the mid 1960s falling farm incomes and a belief that agriculture was losing ground to industry in the rapidly changing Ireland led to the largest march in farming history in the Autumn of 1966.

It culminated in a sitdown on the steps of Government Buildings and won the right to negotiate with the Government on behalf of farmers.

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