SENATOR Victor Boyhan paid tribute to former IFA President and MEP Alan Gillis in the Seanad during Europe Day.
Mr Gillis of Grangecon was President of the Irish Farmers’ Association from 1990 to 1994, and was elected to the European Parliament at the 1994 European election for the Leinster constituency. He was a member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development in the European Parliament.
The respect with which he was held was evident from the huge turn-out for his funeral mass held in St Mary’s Church, Baltinglass, followed by his interment in St John’s Churchyard, Stratford-on-Slaney.
Senator Boyhan told the Seanad that Mr Gillis was an engineer by profession, but a “farmer by choice.”
Senator Boyhan said: “In the early 1960s, Mr Gillis bought a farm in Kill, County Kildare, and soon decided he wanted to pursue farming full-time but required more land to fulfil that ambition. He set his sights on magnificent farm in Ballyhook, Grangecon, close to my own grandfathers farm in Grangecon.
“Alan Gillis will be missed by his many friends and his huge network of colleagues, he was a farmer, churchman and a politician. He advocated strongly for farm families, was faithful too and proud of his Church of Ireland roots and loved a good political argument.
“Alan maintained a strong interest in agriculture from European Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) to Dáil, Seanad and Oireachtas Committee debates on Agriculture.”
Senator Boyhan also remarked that Mr Gillis was one of te first people to congratulate him when he was elected to the Seanad.
“When I was first elected to Seanad Eireann one of the first letters of congratulations that I received in Leinster House was from Alan congratulating me on my election to the Agricultural Panel with the opening line, “I won’t give you advice on agriculture” but went on to outline on 12 foolscap pages his ideas for progressive farming and the need for improved agricultural training.
“I remember the key line - “better farming practices, better animal husbandry and better cultivation, will yield better results for us all.” That was Alan’s message.
“Alan’s family and the farming community will miss him. He was a true gentleman – May He Rest In Peace”
Mr Gillis is sadly missed by his children Nigel, Hazel, Barry and Anna.
His wife, Irene, passed away in 2020, while he is also predeceased by his son Stephen, who passed in 2018.