Former UFU president ‘honoured’ by Taoiseach’s Seanad nomination

Ian Marshall, former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, says he is “honoured” to be considered for a seat in Seanad Eireann.

Speaking to AgriLand, Marshall confirmed that he has been in formal discussions with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, and Tanaiste Simon Coveney, who have nominated the Co. Armagh farmer to fill a seat left vacant by Labour Senator, David Landy, in the upcoming Seanad by-election.

We have been in conversation. It’s a great honour and privilege to even be considered for the position. I’m very happy about it.

Although the position is subject to cross-party support from current TDs and senators as part of the democratic process; Marshall is confident that he could bring a “different perspective” to the upper house of the Oireachtas.

The dairy farmer from Markethill – who currently works as a business development manager in the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University in Belfast – has been involved in agriculture, on both sides of the border, for more than three decades.

He believes his Unionist roots will also compliment his potential new role.

I’m from Northern Ireland, born in Northern Ireland and I am a Unionist by birth. I think I could bring a different perspective that could add to discussion and debate.

“I have been involved in full-time primary production for more than 30 years; I was president of the UFU and I was also a member of the Agri-Food Strategy Board in Northern Ireland.

“When you take all those elements into account, it shows I have an extensive knowledge of the industry in the North, the South and Europe,” he said, adding that the university is “completely supportive” of the nomination.

‘We are all striving for the same thing’

It is expected that Marshall’s depth of knowledge of farming in the border region will also prove critically important to discussion and debate on Brexit.

“Decisions that we take today within the UK will impact on generations to come; it is not just a short-term thing, it will have long-term affects on our industry.

The Brexit vote was made based on rumours and untruths on both sides; the general public need to know what the truth is now and what deal is on the table.

“Ultimately, I think we all want the same thing. Agri-food is one of the most important industries to people in rural Ireland, both north and south; we are striving for a vibrant, successful, sustainable, profitable, agri-food industry and my input in that debate should be helpful,” he said.