Opinion

Why I’d vote for John Comer – the ‘politician’

This month sees outgoing Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) president, John Comer, move on to the next phase of his career, after a period of six years in-post.

Throughout his two terms at the helm of one of Ireland’s most effective farm lobby groups, the Mayo man has been consistently successful in communicating the strongest of messages – both on behalf of ICMSA members and Irish agriculture as a whole.

And Comer had no end of challenges to deal with during his presidential years.

I recollect at least two milk price crashes; two fodder crises; and one full-blown review of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). When one throws in the evolution of Harvest 2020 and, latterly, Food Wise 2025, it’s easy to get a sense of just how busy Comer’s diary has been since taking office.

But it was the 2015/16 milk price emergency that saw Comer really come into his own. He skillfully put forward a policy of milk production constraint for the EU as a whole; while, avoiding the accusation that he favoured the re-introduction of dairy quotas by the back door.

As it turned out, his position was fully vindicated. And many would argue that such a policy still has long term traction, given the spectre of volatility that continues to overhang the milk sector – at home and abroad.

Given the force-for-good that John Comer has been, with regard to the development of public life in Ireland, it would be a tragedy if he decided to go back to his farming roots now and simply leave it at that.

Rural Ireland needs Comer

Rural Ireland needs an effective voice at all levels within society.  And, in my opinion, there is no man better qualified to take on that challenge than the outgoing ICMSA president.

In addition to his knowledge and experience of the political machine here in Ireland; Comer has very strong contacts in Brussels.

The challenge of Brexit is coming down the track. Surely his skills’ base could be put to good use as Ireland strives to secure the best possible trade deal in the wake of the UK leaving the EU.

I’m not sure which political party Comer would give allegiance to. However, it strikes me that Enda Kenny may not run in the next General Election. Such a development could well create an opportunity for Comer. But, really, that’s irrelevant.

Good politicians need to be creative thinkers and good communicators. In my opinion, Comer meets both these requirements in full. And, if he ever decided to stand for public office, he would certainly get my vote.

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