Farm Ireland

Sunday 18 March 2018

Forget the Aras, it's also election time at the ICMSA and the ICSA

Martin Ryan

Presidential election fever is set to grip farmers over the coming weeks, and it is not the Aras that will be solely occupying their minds as council members decide who will be next to lead the ICMSA and ICSA.

ICMSA president Jackie Cahill completes his maximum six year term at the end of November, while his counterpart ICSA, president Gabriel Gilmartin, is facing a challenge to his leadership after serving two years in office.

Kilkenny dairy farmer Tommy Cooke, who has held many senior positions in the ICMSA and was widely speculated upon as the likely next president, has confirmed that he will not be running for the position.

"I have been asked by a number of members to run but I am definitely out", he told the Farming Independent.

"Because of my family situation I could not give the time to the job that it would require. It is a full time job. I have just been appointed to the Teagasc Board and I will be devoting some time to that", he explained.

Cork dairy farmer Dominic Cronin, who recently stepped down as Chairman of the NDC is the only declared candidate in the election, but the focus is now on deputy president, John Comer from Co Mayo, who has confirmed that a decision on his candidature is "imminent".

The organisation has never had a president from the West. However, the odds are stacked against candidates from outside the Munster region with 42 of the 47 votes required to win the election based in counties Cork, Tipperary, Kerry and Waterford.

Nominations for the ICMSA presidency will not close for several weeks, with balloting of the 93 council members at their first meeting following the AGM in late November.

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In the contest for the ICSA presidency, for which nominations closed last Friday, the Connacht/Ulster vice- president, John Flynn has unexpectedly withdrawn from the election.


Mr Flynn's exit leaves Gabrielle Gilmartin in a head- to-head with Marion Condren who is bidding to make history as the first woman to lead a major Irish farming organisation. She is a cattle and sheep farmer at the Swan, Co Laois and the current Laois council representative.

She is regarded as a serious challenger to Gabriel Gilmartin, who is facing a gruelling election in defence of his leadership after two years of internal difficulties and controversies. The fact that both the sheep and suckler committee chairmen have thrown their support behind Marion Condren adds significant weight to her leadership bid.

Balloting of the 110 council members will take place in three weeks on November 2.

Meanwhile, independent Aras candidate Sean Gallagher has come on top of an ICSA opinion poll. The former farmer from Cavan received 30pc of the first preferences of the 550 members surveyed. Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell came in second with 22pc of the votes, Michael D. Higgins got 16pc, Martin McGuinness came fourth with 13pc, David Norris was fifth with 9pc, Mary Davis received 5pc while Dana Rosemary Scallon finished last with just 4pc of the first preference votes. Labour candidate, Michael D. Higgins was the most transfer-friendly candidate, receiving 20pc second preferences. Mary Davis received the most third preferences with over 26pc of the third preferences going to the former head of Special Olympics Ireland.

Indo Farming