Plenty of heated debate on a cold day at mart

Christy Kelly (84), from Mullagh, at Clare Mart yesterday
Christy Kelly (84), from Mullagh, at Clare Mart yesterday

David Raleigh

Farmers vented their anger at the IFA pay row as they ploughed in and out of the Clare Marts co-op in Ennis.

Despite the wintry day outside, there was plenty of heated debate once the turnstiles opened.

Money was on everyone's mind, and not just for those looking for a bargain bullock.

Inside the auction rings where cows were paraded, deals were done and sums of money exchanged between buyer and seller.

However, it was the controversy of the millions paid out to IFA top brass that made these farmers shout out in anger over the chatter of the auction cry.

"It's scandalous to get that amount of money," said Roscommon farmer Joe Maxwell.

"It's an absolute disgrace," added Askeaton farmer Linda Smyth.

Most of the farmers who spoke said they were cancelling their €80 annual subscription in disgust.

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Many here felt there was further muckraking to come.

"What man is worth that kind of money? I'll probably withdraw my €80 too - I didn't pay it to see this type of conduct," said Christy Kelly from Mullagh, Clare.

Mr Kelly, aged 84 and still farming, joined the IFA when he was 21.

"I'm very disappointed. It's a pure scandal," he said.

"I paid up my direct debit every year and nobody told me where my money was going."

Michael Sexton of Milltown Malbay said the forefathers of the IFA would be "turning in their graves".

Former Clare IFA chairman Paddy Pyne (79) summed up the mood.

"The feeling around is the same as if there has been a death in a family - members are saddened and cross.

"The board should go, and we should start from new ground," he said.

Mr Pyne added: "Like you would build a house that has been burned down, you clear everything away to the foundations, and rebuild from there."

The Kilmalley farmer, who is deeply respected in these parts, held the position of chairman, vice-chair, deputy chair and PRO in the Banner County for a period of 20 years.

"In my day, I got a shilling a mile, and if I went to Dublin I got my train ticket and a meal," he said.

He added: "Everyone is disgusted. Money has taken over the organisation."

Irish Independent

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