Animal Health Ireland boss to step down after eight years at the helm

The Chief Executive Officer of Animal Health Ireland (AHI), Joe O’Flaherty, has announced his intention step down from the role after eight years at the helm.

His contract of employment is set to come to an end in September of this year, with the process of recruiting a new CEO already underway.

The current CEO will leave the role he has held in the organisation since it was established in January 2009.

His time as CEO has been the most rewarding period of his career to date, he said.

It has been a privilege to lead an organisation which has had a real positive impact on animal health in Ireland, he added.

My decision to step down has been taken after considerable thought, and it ultimately reflects my strongly held view that it is positive and beneficial for organisations to periodically renew their leadership.

“I am fully confident that the organisation I leave behind is secure and stable, and will continue to grow in strength in the months and years ahead,” he said.

Joe O'Flaherty, Animal Health Ireland
Joe O’Flaherty, current CEO of Animal Health Ireland

O’Flaherty intends to take a post within the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, where he hopes to be able to play a positive role in the continued development of the agri-food sector in Ireland.

Over the remaining period of his contract with AHI, O’Flaherty aims to continue to work closely with the Board of AHI to “ensure a smooth and seamless transition to new leadership”.

O’Flaherty’s Legacy

O’Flaherty will leave behind a number achievements, according to the Chairman of AHI, Mike Magan.

“The national BVD eradication programme is already generating estimated net savings of €66m per annum, and remains on course to eradicate this damaging disease by 2020, at which time the full benefit of over €100m per annum is expected to be realised.

“The hugely successful CellCheck programme has driven very substantial improvements in milk quality, generating tens of millions of euro in annual savings to dairy farmers and milk processors, and substantially reducing the requirement for antibiotics in the dairy herd.

“A very significant pilot programme for the control of Johne’s disease has been delivered and discussions on a successor national programme, under O’Flaherty’s chairmanship, are now at a very advanced stage.

Most recently, the Beef HealthCheck programme, which is based on the capture of health information from the kill line in meat plants, has been established.

“This programme is already generating hugely valuable information on the control of liver fluke and lung disease in Ireland and will undoubtedly deliver further animal health benefits in the future,” Magan said.

The fact that all of these milestones have been achieved, in spite of relatively limited resources, owes a great deal to O’Flaherty’s leadership and management skill, he added.

“As a farmer myself, and on behalf of Irish farmers, I want to publicly acknowledge Joe’s enormous contribution to the sector and to wish him every success in his future career,” he said.