Farm Ireland

Saturday 21 July 2018

Galway's Joe Healy in pole position for IFA presidency role with over 10,000 votes

Joe Healy, from Athenry, Galway
Joe Healy, from Athenry, Galway
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

THE RACE to become the next president of the Irish Farmers' Association is heating up, with Galway dairy farmer Joe Healy firmly in the lead with over 10,000 votes.

The three farmers bidding to be the 15th president of the farming body following a pay controversy have pledged changes to the organisation during the countrywide hustings debates.

Mr Healy, who was seen as an outsider to the IFA farm centre as he was not on the national executive, had said the IFA presidency needed a fresh voice to restore the faith of farmers.

Members had been left angered over pay within the organisation that saw former general secretary Pat Smith leave the organisation after it emerged his pay package amounted to almost €1m over two years.

The election is underway to fill the seat of former president Eddie Downey, who attended yesterday's count, and stepped down after the pay controversy erupted late last year.

Mr Healy, a dairy and cattle farmer from Athenry, has established a firm lead on 10,063 votes with, 79pc of the votes counted or 745 branches.

Laois farmer Henry Burns, the livestock chairman of the IFA, made up ground as the midlands boxes were opened to secure 6,065 votes.

Kerry’s Flor McCarthy, the IFA’s rural development chairman, was behind him on 5,308.

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Louth was the first county completed with Mr Healy declared the winner with 131 of 266 votes case, with Mr Burns taking 115 and Mr McCarthy taking 20 votes.

Mr McCarthy’s stronghold of Munster saw him secure Cork West with 483 of the 850 votes, while Mr Healy dominated in a number of counties including Waterford, Clare, Cork Central and Cork North, Limerick, Tipperary and Mayo.

Mr Burns took Wicklow with 221 of the 291 votes, and also Kildare and Offaly.

A result in the count is expected later this afternoon with over 947 envelopes of votes to be opened from branches around the country.

It is run similar to a general election with members casting first preference votes for candidates and if the number of votes a candidate receives is equal to the quota then they are deemed elected. Otherwise the candidate with the least number of first preference votes will be excluded and the second preferences will be distributed.

The vote is expected to be down on the numbers that cast their ballot at the last election in 2013, with some branches reporting apathy among members and a large spring workload hampering voting.

Early tallies from officers nationwide estimated the number of farmers casting their ballot slumped to around 25,000 of the 75,501 voting members.

Members were also voting for a deputy president with Limerick's Richard Kennedy, Monaghan's Nigel Reneghan and Kildare's Pat Farrell all in the running. Mr Kennedy, who is also not on the IFA’s executive council, is establishing a firm lead, with over 10,000 votes with 79pc of the branches counted.

A regional chairman is also being elected in Munster with John Coughlan from Buttevant, north Cork and John O'Brien from Barryroe in Cork central in the running.



Online Editors