Farm Ireland

Friday 25 May 2018

IFA veterans are shocked and saddened by 'awful situation'

Future IFA president TJ Maher (right) leads a group of Tipperary farmers during the 1966 march on Dublin.
Future IFA president TJ Maher (right) leads a group of Tipperary farmers during the 1966 march on Dublin.

Martin Ryan

Veteran and founder members of the IFA have spoken of their shock at last week's revelations about pay levels within the organisation.

Mark Kennedy from Kilmeedy, a founder member of one of the first NFA branches in Co Limerick, said that he had been saddened by the developments in IFA.

"It's an awful situation. The NFA/IFA was a second religion to us all our lives and all the effort which we put into building up that organisation in the early days when the farmers had nothing compared to today.

"They were working at their own expense to establish the organisation that would represent farmers' interest.

"The organisation had nothing to pay expenses - the farmers put their hands in their own pockets even though they had very little. They could never have thought that it would come to this.

"It is hard to believe that it could have come to this. But it has to come again and people have to get down to work to see that it does.

"I don't know how it could have gone so wrong."

Gerard Hayes from Mungret, who is in his 95th year, is one of the oldest founder members in the region, and gave almost a quarter of a century continuous service unopposed as county treasurer in Limerick reflected on the recent events.

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"It is in a very dirty state at the moment and has to be cleaned up.

"The president should not have agreed to paying that kind of money at all.

"Of course I would like to see the organisation up and running again. I am not active in it now but I am still there in spirit.

"There were lots of people in this county who put a lot into the NFA and it would not have existed only for the genuine people who worked so hard to establish it in the early years.

"There was people like the late Paddy Fitzgerald, Caherconlish (a former Munster vice-president) who went around the county on a bicycle organising branches of NFA, because he believed that the farmers needed a strong organisation to represent them and he never got a penny for it because there was no money there, nor did he expect to be compensated.

"That was the spirit behind the NFA in those time. It is sad that it has changed so much."

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