Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 16 January 2018

IFA voter turnout down 30pc in Connacht and 14pc nationally

Voter turnout was down
Voter turnout was down

Martin Ryan

Voter turnout in December's IFA elections was down 14pc, with the biggest decrease in the west, where turnout plummeted by 30pc when compared to the elections in 2009.

More than three quarters of the association's 27 executive regions showed a decline, with some showing a collapse of close to 50pc.

Official figures for the election show that only one in three of the organisation's 88,000 members cast their vote. Some 31,730 members voted at the 946 polling centres, which is equivalent to just 36pc of the eligible electorate.

However, a statement from the IFA's national returning officer, Michael Keane, insisted that turnout was excellent since there were three fewer regional contests, which resulted in seven fewer counties with candidates running compared to four years ago.

Four of the seven regions that bucked the downward trend by showing a higher turnout than the 2009 election were the home counties of candidates who faced a contest in the election -- Jer Bergin's Laois, Eddie Downey's Meath, JJ Kavanagh's Wexford and James McCarthy's Kerry.

The increase of 60pc in Meath and 59pc in Laois reflected the measure of local support behind the two candidates for the national presidency.

More modest increases were recorded in Wexford (+17pc) and Kerry (+11pc), where candidates for the deputy presidency and Munster chairman were based.

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The increase in the home counties of the two presidential candidates effectively cancels out the decrease in the two counties represented by the two presidential candidates in the 2009 contest.

John Bryan's Kilkenny saw a vote collapse of 52pc, while Derek Deane's Carlow slumped by 48pc.

The sharp decline in voter numbers across almost all western counties will be a bigger concern for the organisation, however.

Longford was down 42pc, Roscommon back by 39pc, Leitrim was down 32pc, while Sligo dipped by 21pc.

The large voting blocks of Galway and Mayo were also back significantly, at 25pc and 31pc lower respectively.

The exception in the west was Donegal where the vote was increased by 13pc.

The growth in voter apathy in the west is likely to be partly due to farmer anger with the organisation's opposition to Commissioner Dacian Ciolos' CAP reform proposals to redistribute some of Ireland's €1.2bn Single Farm Payment.

The vote was also down throughout Munster, with the exception of an 11pc increase in Kerry.

Largest declines were recorded in Limerick, North Cork, Clare and South Tipperary, where the vote decreased by between 20pc and 38pc.

Other counties notable for their increased vote appear to be neighbours of the president elect, Eddie Downey.

The Dublin vote was up by 37pc, while Louth increased by 18pc.

Irish Independent