'They have let us down' - local IFA members shut down branch, but senior officials vow to go on

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Members of IFA in Mayo have shut down their own local branch, but senior IFA officials say it will be re-established.

Crossmolina IFA held its AGM in December where members voted to disband the branch. It's understood that only seven members of the branch turned up for the AGM on December 6 when the vote was taken. One member said members felt IFA had let them down and that shutting down the branch might send a signal back to HQ.

Those at the AGM included IFA County Officer Brendan Golden, who is also a member of the IFA National Livestock Committee and with no counter proposal to keep the branch open, it was voted on unanimously to disband the branch.

However, notice of a rescheduled AGM was sent last week to members, to take place last night in Crossmolina, setting out an agenda including branch priorities for the year ahead. The letter also said members could give feedback on the main issues of concern to farmers.

One member, who attended the meeting, said it was decided at last night's meeting that a vote would not be taken, but the Association would look at re-opening the branch in a year's time.

Mayo County Chairman, Martin Gilvarry, who did not attend the December AGM, was present last night and confirmed that the branch has been disbanded, but said that last night's event was an "information evening", with approximately 25 members of the 65 branch members in attendance.

"Last night was a good information meeting, with good engagement from those present on the issues of the day including beef and Brexit."

He also said that the Crossmolina branch would be re-established, possibly around October or November, as it was felt at last night's meeting that people needed time to think about the future of the future of the branch.

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"The branch will be back up and running (again). We will be calling a meeting before the (IFA) Presidential election and we will have a new chair and secretary eelected. There are 55 branches in Mayo and Crossmolina will go on."

Earlier this week, the Farming Independent reported that communication between the IFA and its thousands of members countrywide has been brought under the microscope as the organisation conducts a review into the issue.

Rank and file members in several areas of the country have been critical of "the divide" between IFA at national level and the membership on the ground on decision making and have been calling for farmers' voices to be heard.

The launch of the Beef Plan Group has set a challenge for the IFA to counteract allegations that livestock farmers have not been adequately represented by the organisation.

Over 70pc of the IFA membership is made up of livestock farmers.

It is understood the review will examine how the organisation communicates with its membership and it will be considered by the national officers before the end of this month.

A senior IFA source explained: "We want to see are we getting the messages to the members as effectively and as quickly as possible.

"We want to establish if there is a better way to keep in contact with our farmers."

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