Councillor back milking cows half an hour after topping poll
Dairy farmer and Fine Gael councillor Willie Aird was back milking cows on his farm in the centre of Portlaoise just 30 minutes after it was announced that he topped the poll in the town's local election.
Mr Aird, who was first elected to the council in 1979 at the age of 19, has topped the poll for the last four consecutive elections.
He said he was keen to get back to milking his 100-cow dairy herd.
"The results were delayed yesterday. The first count results didn't happen until around 7pm, so half an hour later I was back milking cows in the yard. I couldn't keep them waiting any longer.
"Silage has to be done this week too, we put it off especially because of the elections."
While developers have come knocking over the years trying to tempt Mr Aird to sell the land he has in the town centre, he says he will never sell and loves farming in the town.
"We've been farming for four generations in the town. We used to bring the cows across the road until the shopping centre was built but we've stopped that now. I zero graze land across the road and we have land elsewhere too," says the Laois man who farms with his wife Ann-Marie.
"It's biodiversity within the town - that's what I was telling people when I was out canvassing. The practicalities of it work for us."
From canvassing over the last number of weeks, Mr Aird says young people are very concerned about the environment and Brexit is the biggest issue among farmers.
"I live in the town but I farm so I think that helped me get over the line and do so well. It is an urban town and expanding a lot but the rural element is still very important," he said.