Former ICSA president rows in behind Wallace's European bid

Former ICSA president Patrick Kent.
Former ICSA president Patrick Kent.
Patrick Kent
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Former Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers' Association (ICSA) president, Patrick Kent has said he will be assisting MEP hopeful Mick Wallace in his election bid.

Mr Kent's resigned as ICSA President last came after it was revealed by the Irish Independent that he had accepted being named on MEP candidate Mick Wallace's replacement list.

He has since rowed in behind Independent TD Mick Wallace, telling the Wexford People that Deputy Wallace he has the bottle and ability to take on the big guns in the European Union, if elected in late May.

Mr Kent will be advising him on agricultural policy.

He said he is meeting Deputy Wallace this week to iron out the details of how he can assist him in his bid to get elected in Europe.

Mr Kent said the phone call from Mr Wallace had 'come out of the blue' and he has only met the candidate three times.

He said he will take up the paid role and is focused on getting Mr Wallace elected.

Mr Kent's move comes despite Deputy Wallace's controversial comments in recent weeks comparing the Irish beef and dairy sectors to fracking.

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Mr Wallace said "Both the beef and dairy sector and the gas fracking sector are carbon emitting and have to be scaled back massively if we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally."

Although Mr Kent says he does not agree with Mr Wallace on everything, there are many synergies in how they view the importance of food and health in society.

Mr Kent himself will be remembered for he outspoken views as ICSA president on veganism and the environment.

In January 2018 he stated on RTE's Claire Byrne Live show that there was a link between the vegan diet and Alzheimer's Disease, while at an 'Our Farms, Our Food, Our Future' conference in Cork last year he made comments criticising grass fed Irish milk which he later retracted.

Having headed up the ICSA for almost three terms, Mr Kent stepped down from his position as leader of the body last week, to take up the role with Deputy Wallace, saying he left the organisation in a better shape than when he took on the role as its president in 2004.

"I was in the third quarter of my third term as president. It was an exit strategy."

He said his time heading the ICSA has opened doors for him.

"I have no regrets. We have done a lot of lobbying and I will be pursuing different roles. Other options are appearing so we'll see what they offer."

The ICSA presidential election race is likely to be brought forward following his resignation.

ICSA general secretary Eddie Punch told the Farming Independent that Mr Kent informed the farm organisation of his intention to resign last Wednesday at its National Executive meeting and that Mr Kent (pictured) received a standing ovation for his dedication to ICSA.

Mr Punch said Mr Kent's involvement in a political outfit would not have been compatible with his role as ICSA president.

"Once a person gets involved in political outfit they can't be president of a farm organisation," he said. "It wouldn't be practical.

"It came as a surprise to us all and wasn't something we saw coming."

Mr Punch added that it is likely the next board meeting will decide to bring the planned election date of December 2019 forward to facilitate the instatement of a new president.

Mr Kent had been president of the organisation since 2014.

Online Editors