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'Women's feet are smaller so they can stand closer to the kitchen sink'

IFA election candidate in hot water over 'throw-away' remark

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A number of women have claimed that 'a throw-away' remark by a candidate in the battle for the forthcoming election of an Irish Farmers Association (IFA) regional chairman in the North East is making them see red!

The contest for the regional officership comes to a close later this week and the two candidates in the running are James Spears, a dairy farmer from Laragh, who is Cavan County IFA chairman, and a neighbouring county contender, Nigel Renaghan, a well-known poultry producer and suckler farmer from Clontibret, Co Monaghan, who is currently national poultry committee chairman of the IFA.

At the meeting in Mullingar, Westmeath, IFA Councy Chairman Kenneth Bray asked the two candidates about how the organisation could get more women and young people involved.

"James said he was going to crack a joke," according to Mr Bray, and the joke was that 'women's feet are smaller, so they can get closer to the kitchen sink', but it did not go down well with the room.

"He also said that women do a lot of work behind the scenes on farms, including mountains of paperwork and raising families, but the remark went down like a lead balloon.

"Neither candidate came up with ideas on how to get more women or young people into the organisation," the County Chairman said and that the mood in the room after the debate was not appreciative of the remark.

"People said afterwards that it should not have been said in this day and age," he said.

However, according to one irate female IFA member, the remark “attracted strong criticism from a number of those present, and has also irked some members of the Irish Countrywomens’ Association.

One source said: ”This might be a storm in a tea-cup but it has  certainly ruffled a number of very dedicated female IFA members throughout the region".

It is understood the issue has led to a call this week by some senior branch officials of the IFA  in the region for an investigation into the alleged comments at the meeting and clarification of any statements made.

When contacted, James Spears said he apologies unreservedly for the comments at the debate.

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