Bookie suspends betting in IFA race after flurry of activity on one candidate
In a dramatic development in the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) presidential race, betting giant Paddy Power suspended betting on the race over the weekend.
It’s understood Paddy Power took the decision to suspend betting on Saturday afternoon, following a flurry of betting activity connected to one candidate Tim Cullinan. Cullinan has since raised concerns that “outside elements are attempting to influence the outcome of the IFA presidential elections”.
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Three candidates, Tim Cullinan, from Tipperary, John Coughlan, from Cork and Angus Woods, from Wicklow are contesting the race to become the 16th president of the largest farming organisation and one of the most influential lobby group in the country.
Voting in the election started last night with the association’s 72,000 farmer members encouraged to vote over the coming weeks at over 900 local branch meetings nationwide. Its National Returning Officer Richard Kennedy encouraged farmers to attend the Association’s 944 branch votes for the positions of President and Deputy President.
“It’s an important exercise in democracy and it affords farmers across all enterprises, and in every part of the country, an equal voice in deciding who is best placed to represent Irish farmers from 2020 on,” he said.
However, the controversy is threatening to overshadow the three weeks of elections, after Paddy Power confirmed to the Irish Independent that it suspended betting on the election over the weekend.
“Tipperary man Tim Cullinan was the outsider in the race according to our odds, which we were asked to provide.
“However, following activity in this market he was cut to favourite before betting was subsequently suspended,” a spokesperson for Paddy Power confirmed.
According to IFA presidential candidate Tim Cullinan, who was initially quoted by Paddy Power as being the race outsider, “there is serious concern around the country that outside elements are attempting to influence the outcome of the IFA presidential elections.” Any outside interference in the IFA elections will be seen by members as an attempt to resist the change that farmers want, he said.
Cullinan’s status as the outsider of the three candidates surprised some senior figures in the IFA and informed sources last night said the race was still too close to call with the three candidates said to be neck and neck.
The organisation has been under unprecedented pressure in recent years as internal strife, breakaway groups and financial woes threaten to erode its position as the country’s leading farm organisation.
IFA’s members have raised a number of issues at the hustings in recent weeks, including the recent beef protests, which were led by the Beef Plan Movement.
Earlier this year significant numbers of farmers, many of whom were members of IFA, protested at factory gates over falling beef prices, under the banner of the newly-formed Beef Plan Movement. IFA did not offically back the protest and its presidential candidates were questioned on the move at recent hustings.