Farm Ireland

Saturday 17 March 2018

The long march that defined the IFA

On October 7, 1966, NFA President, Rickard Deasy set out on a 217-mile march from Bantry to Dublin. En route, he was joined by farmers from the four corners of the country over 30,000 converged on Dublin on October 19.

Nine farm leaders staged a 21-day sit-out on the steps of Government Buildings after then Minister for Agriculture, Charles Haughey refused to meet them.

On November 9, the Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, intervened and a meeting with the new Minister for Agriculture, Neil Blaney was arranged.

The nine leaders were were Rickard Deasy, TJ Maher, Michael Gibbons, Joe Dunphy, Bob Stack, Jim Bergin, Sean Holland, Hugh Leddy, and Tom Cahill - the longest surviving member who died a year ago.

The Farmers Rights Campaign which lasted a further six months, resulted in farmers being jailed and goods and animals seized from farms for non-payment of rates.

The campaign eventually won for NFA the right to negotiate with the Government on behalf of farmers.

The merger of the beet growers, horticulture, and fresh milk producers' led to the formation of the IFA in 1971.

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