Friday 17 November 2017

A farmer at heart and, crucially, loyal to Kenny

NEW Junior Agriculture Minister Tom Hayes has plenty of personal experience from raising cattle on his 140-acre farm.

NEW Junior Agriculture Minister Tom Hayes has plenty of personal experience from raising cattle on his 140-acre farm.

Mr Hayes said he was a strong believer in the potential for farming and agri-food businesses to grow by exporting more to countries like China.

"It's a good way of life for 150,000 people. We produce a top quality product and we have to make sure that Irish food is seen as the safest and best in the world," he said.

Mr Hayes was born on a family farm in Golden, Co Tipperary. He has three sons with his wife Marian.

He said he wanted to do the job to the best of his ability following the tragic death of his predecessor, the late Shane McEntee.

"I was his director of elections in the 2005 Meath East by-election and a personal friend. He left a big gap and I have to fill that," he said.

Mr Hayes' political career stretches back 22 years. After starting off as a councillor, he was elected to the Seanad in 1997.

His entry into the Dail came after two TDs in Tipperary South died within the space of a year – Labour's Michael Ferris in 2000 and Fine Gael's Theresa Ahern in 2001.

Mr Hayes kept a low profile when all the speculation about the new junior ministry centred on Fine Gael Meath West TD Damien English.

But he had more experience of agriculture and, crucially, was a loyal supporter of Taoiseach Enda Kenny during the failed leadership heave; whereas Mr English was one of the frontbench rebels who was sacked by Mr Kenny.

Irish Independent

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