Farm Ireland

Sunday 22 April 2018

'Get out and vote' - IFA candidates

IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin has urged people to vote. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.
IFA National Chairman Jer Bergin has urged people to vote. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.

Martin Ryan

Candidates in the IFA presidential election have urged farmers to come out and vote as early indications indicate a low turnout at the ballot boxes.

Seasoned campaign activists believe the turnout could be down by up to 25pc on the 2013 election, as farmers vent their anger and disappointment over the pay controversy within the body.

The turnout at branches for the first three nights of the ballot varied widely throughout the country, from an estimated 90pc turnout to less than 10pc in other areas, with stronger turnouts in areas boasting candidates.

Galway candidate Joe Healy said the reports of very low turnouts at some branch ballots was a worrying development for IFA. "We have only one chance to reform the IFA and that is in this election. I have said this throughout the campaign and I am as certain of it now as I was at the start," Mr Healy said.

"The 12pc drop in levies since last autumn, along with the 4,500 lapsed and cancelled memberships, confirms that the IFA is facing very significant difficulties."

He said the future of the organisation is in the members' hands and by casting their ballots they can influence how the IFA conducts its business in future.

Kerry's Flor McCarthy urged IFA members to use the opportunity to use their vote to reunite the association and focus it on listening to members concerns on the ground and getting real improvement in farm incomes.

Mr McCarthy said he understood that some farmers are annoyed with IFA in the wake of the controversies of the past year, but he said farmers need a unified IFA, with a strong effective president, to tackle the huge issues facing farming, farm families and rural communities like never before.

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IFA national chairman Jer Bergin said the election is an opportunity for the 75,501 members who have a vote to decide who will lead them for the next four years.

Despite the 29 strong husting campaign that saw candidates clock up thousands of miles, it is estimated that only a small number of the members attended to question the candidates.

In 2013 the total vote was 31,730, a fall-off on the 36,872 that voted in 2009.

Voting got off to a strong start in the west, with over 90pc turnout at branches in Galway, while estimates for other parts of the west are putting the turnout at "the region of 20pc".

Turnout in the Cavan area was estimated at around a fifth, with farmers highlighting the busy time of the year as "unsuitable" for the election, while some branches in Roscommon cancelled meetings over the impasse in the Connacht regional chair.

Turnout at the early branches in the north east was described as "very disappointing" with some key branches returning "around 20pc" in north Leinster. Voting in Munster appears to be bucking the national trend with the added pressure from candidates for the regional chair who are reliant on the 'weighted' vote.

North Cork is returning "around 50pc" average within a range of 30-80pc and a similar pattern is emerging from Cork Central and West Cork.

With an electorate of 6,000 in Kerry, it is expected that the poll will top 65pc overall. Limerick is returning 30-50pc in general with up to 80pc being reported from West Limerick.

Turnout in Leinster is estimated at "around 40-45pc", while officers in some of the key counties are fearful that total turnout could be down by 30-40pc on 2013.

Voting at the 947 branches will continue until April 15, with the count scheduled for April 19.

Indo Farming