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Fresh twist to Beef Plan feud as founders Corley and Doyle step back amid tussle for control

 

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Protest: A march, led by the Beef Plan Movement, at Leinster House

Protest: A march, led by the Beef Plan Movement, at Leinster House

Protest: A march, led by the Beef Plan Movement, at Leinster House

Beef Plan founders Eamon Corley and Hugh Doyle are to step away from overall leadership roles within the organisation after its AGM next month, as two groups compete for control of the body.

Corley, who, alongside Doyle, has led Beef Plan since its foundation 18 months ago, told the Farming Independent that he is still passionate about the organisation and would like to remain involved in some other way.

In a video issued by Corley and Doyle over the weekend, Doyle also said he would not be running for chair of the organisation.

It comes as internal feuds continue to envelop the organisation after co-chairs Corley and Doyle issued a statement in January saying they were standing down the national committee, regional committees and sub-committees and establishing a national interim committee.

The emergence of two national committees has led to widespread confusion among members.

However, Dermot O'Brien, a spokesperson for the 'stood down' national committee, said the co-chairs had no authority to step down the committees and the group passed a motion of no confidence in Corley and Doyle at a meeting in Portlaoise on January 26.

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Eamon Corley chairman of the Emerald Isle producers group pictured on his farm outside Navan, County Meath. Photo: Barry Cronin

Eamon Corley chairman of the Emerald Isle producers group pictured on his farm outside Navan, County Meath. Photo: Barry Cronin

According to O'Brien, representatives from 16 counties met in Tullamore at the weekend and elected an interim chairman, vice-chair and secretary, who he says will remain in place until a new committee is formed.

"Members are very confused at the moment, but we plan to keep the organisation going," O'Brien said. He also said the members want answers to questions around membership numbers. "We need accountability. We have repeatedly requested answers, and we have not been afforded these answers in relation to membership lists."

In a letter to all members last Thursday, February 6, Corley and Doyle claimed the families of some Beef Plan members have been the victims of "blackmail, intimidation and unfounded reports of malpractice" in recent days.

The letter also stated that the national committee of Beef Plan were "looking at their legal avenues" regarding this incident.

Mr Corley said that members must unite if the Beef Plan Movement is to succeed but that it might be necessary to expel some members for the good of the overall organisation.

"If I disappeared [from Beef Plan] today I don't feel that I would have made a significant difference. I am still very passionate about the organisation. I probably won't lead the organisation after the AGM, but I would like to be involved in some way, maybe on the national committee," he said.

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Beef Plan Movement co Chair Hugh Doyle

Beef Plan Movement co Chair Hugh Doyle

"Whoever does lead the organisation going forward will have to have the respect and goodwill of the members and the members will have to feel that they can trust those people to represent them and take their view on board."

Members from both sides of the Beef Plan feud attended a meeting in Cavan last Saturday week when it was agreed that mediation would take place between the two groups.

Beef Plan claimed in last Thursday's letter to its members that the "old national committee" had decided not to attend this mediation. Mr Corley said that expelling feuding parties from Beef Plan now "is a possibility".

"It is not something that anyone wants to do, but if that's what it takes to have a functional organisation, then it is the right thing to happen," he said.

The Beef Plan co-chair said that the "actions of a few people" should not prevent committed members from putting themselves forward for leadership roles in the organisation.

"I think 90 per cent of farmers are appreciative of the work that their leaders do. There is a lot of good to be gotten out of representing farmers and trying to improve the lot of farmers in general," he said.

"I don't think that the actions of a few people, which have become negative for one reason or another, should stop people from putting themselves forward to represent farmers. Now more than ever, we need to be represented by good people."

Mr Corley, who is also the chair of the new Emerald Isle Producers Group, says his vision for the future of Beef Plan is for a more structured group which is responsive to the needs and opinions of farmers.

"We need to be a grassroots organisation that listens to the farmers and works from the ground up," he said.

Indo Farming