Rumblings of “member registration anomalies” in the run up to the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) presidential election have been roundly dismissed by officials.

In recent weeks it has been alleged that family members, friends and acquaintances of one of the two contenders have been signing up for membership of the association, in a bid to rally support for a particular candidate.

The move is believed to have ruffled the feathers of some members.

Current ICSA president, Patrick Kent, is running head-to-head with the association’s current rural development chairman, Seamus Sherlock, for top office. The winner will be picked from more than 100 votes from ICSA delegates in every county.

However, with the finishing line in sight – the winner will be announced on Thursday (December 14) – Eddie Punch, ICSA general secretary, has stated that the contest is operating in a fair and just manner.

Speaking to AgriLand, Punch said: “I am aware of the reports that family members are being registered onto county structures to help secure votes [for a candidate] and what is wrong with that?

Yes, maybe a few of them only joined in the last year, but what is wrong with that either? We’re looking for new members so boo-hoo-hoo; that’s politics for you.

“They joined the association and they voted for people who might vote for a particular person; I don’t see the issue. Am I supposed to say that we don’t want people that are related to existing members?

“In a nutshell, I am satisfied that we have done everything in our power to ensure that the election is conducted on a strictly fair and legal basis,” he said.

With just two days to go until the announcement, Punch said the contest remains “neck-in-neck”.

“They are getting nervous now; we’re just a couple of days before the election. They are anxious.

“I have no idea how it is going to turn out and that is a tribute to both candidates for putting in a strong campaign,” he said.

The ICSA presidential election will take place at the Midlands Park Hotel in Portlaoise, Co. Laois, this Thursday night. The outcome will decide who will lead the association for the next two years. Proceedings are expected to begin at 8:00pm.