Officers within the Kerry Irish Farmers’ Association branch have been invited to attend a meeting on Friday, October 7 in Castleisland to discuss the controversy that has engulfed the branch since late summer.
The Kerryman revealed in August that the branch’s chairperson, Kenny Jones, had submitted a complaint against at least two members of the Kerry IFA County Executive: John Joe Mac Gearailt, who recently resigned as Kerry’s vice-chairperson; and Michael O’Dowd, the county’s dairy chairperson. This newspaper understands that tomorrow night’s meeting has been called as Gerard Dollard has completed an independent investigation into the matters.
Mr Jones alleged that he received an abusive text message from Mr Mac Gearailt in May, as well as an abusive phone call on another date. It is unclear what the complaint against Mr O’Dowd relates to. The Kerryman sought clarity from the national IFA on this and several other issues at the time, including on the number of Kerry executive members subject to complaints, but the Association did not respond.
Mr O’Dowd confirmed that he has received a report on Mr Dollard’s investigation but declined to comment further.
Kerry IFA’s Second Delegate Mary Fleming said that tomorrow’s meeting – which takes place from 8.30pm at the Crown Hotel and will be open to County Officers – follows a more informal meeting earlier this week. She said this was also primarily attended by County Officers.
John Joe Mac Gearailt said he was approached to attend tomorrow night’s meeting but declined to do so as his involvement with the IFA “is all in the past”.
“I’m glad now I’m outside the organisation,” said Mr Mac Gearailt, who felt the complaint against him could have been resolved without the need for a formal submission to the IFA at national level.
“There are a lot of good County Officers inside there, and there’s a lot of work to be done for farmers on the ground, and if we keep going the way we are, it’ll get nobody nowhere. I said I’d call a halt, draw a line in the sand.”
Mr Mac Gearailt confirmed that he received a report from Mr Dollard and claimed no disciplinary action is being recommended against him as he has already left the association.
He confirmed, meanwhile, that he has been in talks with the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA) about setting up a branch in his native west Kerry.
“It has been in the pipeline,” he said, claiming the support he has received since leaving the IFA encouraged him to continue representing farmers. A meeting exploring the possibility of setting up an INHFA branch in West Kerry will take place in Dingle Mart on October 18 from 7pm.
The Kerryman has approached national IFA for comment on Mr Dollard’s investigation.