Eddie Punch, who announced earlier this year that he would run in the European elections, has joined Independent Ireland and will run as a candidate for that party.

Punch, who up until March had been the the general secretary of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) – an organisation he had been part of for 25 years – will run for Independent Ireland in the Ireland South constituency, the party confirmed.

Commenting on his alignment to the new party, Punch said: “Joining Independent Ireland is a crucial step in strengthening our collective voice in Brussels, ensuring our diverse needs are addressed effectively.”

Party leader and Cork South-West TD Michael Collins welcomed Punch to the party, saying that his “extensive experience and profound understanding of local and European issues are exactly what Ireland South needs for effective representation in the European Parliament”.

Limerick County TD Richard O’ Donoghue, who is general secretary of the party, said that Punch is a significant addition to the party’s ticket, and that his advocacy for regional development align with the party’s objectives.

Independent Ireland member Michael Fitzmaurice said that Punch “has always been a champion for the rural community, from farmers and fishermen to local shopkeepers and teachers”.

“His candidacy ensures a comprehensive representation for everyone in Ireland South, weaving the entire social fabric into the heart of our European engagement,” Fitzmaurice said.

The party said that Punch has a “deep knowledge” of Brussels, and has first-hand experience in negotiating with the European Commission and MEPs on behalf of the farming and rural communities.

Apart from working for the ICSA for a quarter of a century, Punch also worked in Botswana as a consultant to farm organisations and is currently a director of Sixmilebridge Co-operative Livestock Mart in Co. Clare.

He is also a member of the Irish Management Institute Council. He has previously served as a member of the National Economic and Social Council.

In his ICSA role, he has represented farmers on many consultative committees of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), including the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Brexit consultative committees.

He is from Cratloe, Co. Clare, and runs a suckler and beef farm.