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Thursday 15 November 2018

We can’t be accountable for people for not doing what they were asked to do - Ploughing organiser

Refund issue: Ploughing organiser Anna Marie McHugh pictured with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Ploughing. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Refund issue: Ploughing organiser Anna Marie McHugh pictured with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the Ploughing. Picture: Steve Humphreys
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Ploughing organiser Anna Marie McHugh robustly defended the handling of the ad-hoc shutdown during Storm Ali, saying: "We can't be accountable for people not doing what they were asked to do."

Ms McHugh is general secretary of the National Ploughing Association (NPA), which came in for criticism this week after cancelling the middle day of this year's event.

As Storm Ali blazed its way across the country, organisers eventually called off the event just before noon on Wednesday, leaving thousands of exhibitors and potential visitors sat in cars parked in fields around the site.

Despite the criticism, Ms McHugh is adamant she does not regret any of the decisions made, or their timing.

"I do know people were saying they were waiting in car parks and that's not good, but we did tell people not to come before 11am. Thousands did hear this message and we can't be accountable for people not doing what they were asked to do," she said. "The weather reading from 7am was very good, it had improved from the night before.

"It was from 10am that the wind started to turn and got stronger."

National Ploughing Championships 2018. Lucy Ryan (4) from Thurles, Co. Tipperary has a handy way of getting around with her mother Clara. Picture; Gerry Mooney
National Ploughing Championships 2018. Lucy Ryan (4) from Thurles, Co. Tipperary has a handy way of getting around with her mother Clara. Picture; Gerry Mooney
National Ploughing Championships 2018. Judges Ollie Furey, John Tracy and Michael Cunningham discuss the entries on the conventional plough competition. Picture; Gerry Mooney
National Ploughing Championships 2018. Ryan Tubridy gets all country as he tries to milk a cow with the assistance of Caitriona Mullin from Mountbellew in Galway at the Volac/IHFA stand. Picture; Gerry Mooney
National Ploughing Championships 2018. Lucy Ryan (4) from Thurles, Co. Tipperary has a handy way of getting around with her mother Clara. Picture; Gerry Mooney
National Ploughing Championships 2018. Workers repair the damage caused to the Fine Gael stand after Storm Ali . Picture; Gerry Mooney
National Ploughing Championships 2018. Jane Jackson tries to clean up her stand in the exhibition site in Screggan after damage caused by Storm Ali . Picture; Gerry Mooney
Pat Spillane chatting in the Independent Tent at the Ploughing Championships in Screggan Co Offaly.
20/09/2018 Emma Hynes, 14, from Athlone minding Napolean the Charolais bull at the Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Co. Offaly. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
20/09/2018 Charlie Reynolds, 4, from Dunleer enjoys himself at the Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Co. Offaly. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM
National Ploughing Championships 2018. The parade of tractors for the 2018 Ploughing champions . Picture; Gerry Mooney
National Ploughing Championships 2018. Eustace Burke from Carrigaline prepares his Angus heifer Clontead Lady Hotshot before day three of the ploughing gets underway. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Magareth Donnelly chatting about Post Pope Ireland to Harold Kingston and Fr.Brian Darcy in the Independent Tent at the Ploughing Championships in Screggan Co Offaly.

While she said the visit of the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to the Ploughing yesterday was a great boost, some 30 to 40 exhibitors chose not to open their doors.

That included the Department of Housing's marquee, which remained closed for the day, directly across from the National Ploughing Association headquarters.

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The NPA, she said, is taking a big financial hit but it was necessary to open its doors to allow exhibitors to show and sell their wares yesterday.

She says refunds for exhibitors are not something the NPA is looking at right now.

"It's a storm, I wouldn't imagine it's something that would come in the category of refunds," she said.

She also said exhibitors, some of whom would have spent thousands of euro being at the event, had not come to her personally yet about refunds.

"I'm sure some have been on. Certainly some have been on asking about insurance," she added.

One thing is for certain, according to Ms McHugh, is that the format of the Ploughing won't change next year.

Where it takes place is still up in the air she said, after Fine Gael TD Pat Deering prematurely said it would be coming to his constituency next year.

"We were closer to finalising the location before Pat Deering said his piece, but we're not making an announcement yet about next year's location," she said.

The event, she said, is kept grounded by the 300-plus ploughmen who compete for national titles at the event. Ploughing was the only element of the event that still took place on Wednesday.

*This headline was changed to remove the word ‘shutdown’ as Anna Marie did not use the word ‘shutdown’ during the interview.

Irish Independent



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