The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is set to elect eight new national committee chairs this week, including sheep, poultry and grain.
The results of the various elections will be announced during individual committee meetings this Thursday and Friday (January 13 and 14).
All of the events will be held online and the votes cast by members of the committees are being handled by postal ballot.
The meetings kick off at 11:00a.m on Thursday when a replacement for outgoing Animal Health Committee chair, Pat Farrell from Co. Kildare, will be selected.
At midday, members of the Farm Family and Social Affairs Committee will elect a successor to Caroline Farrell from Co. Kildare.
The person who will become the next Hill Farming Committee chair, replacing Kerry’s Flor McCarthy, will be announced at 1:30p.m.
An hour later, the Poultry Committee will elect a successor for Andrew Boylan from Co. Monaghan.
The final meeting on Thursday begins at 3:30p.m when the new chair of the Potato Committee will be selected to replace Thomas McKeown from Co. Meath.
On Friday (January 14), the first of three meetings is due to start at 11:00a.m when the Sheep Committee gathers to hear who they have elected as the new chair to succeed Cork’s Sean Dennehy.
At midday, it will be the turn of the Forestry Committee; Vincent Nally from Co. Westmeath is the outgoing chair.
The final election result will be revealed at 2:30p.m when the Grain Committee learns who will replace Mark Browne from Co. Wexford.
Speculation has surrounded the identities of the new commodity chairs, as under IFA rules, all committee members are eligible to run for the position of chair.
Kevin Comiskey from Co. Leitrim who is the current vice-chair of the Sheep Committee is being linked with the top role there.
Laois man Kieran McEvoy, who is vice-chair of the Grain Committee appears to be in the running for chair of that committee.
Alice Doyle from Wexford and Limerick’s Mary Breen have been touted as possibilities for the next Farm Family Committee chair.
Wexford man, Sean Ryan, has been linked to the top job on the Potato Committee; he is currently vice-chair.
Cáillin Connelly from Connemara is believed to be in the running to replace Flor McCarthy as Hill Committee chair.
Cork’s Nigel Sweetman and Brendan Soden from Monaghan appear to be bidding to become the next Poultry Committee chair.
Kerry’s Jason Fleming has been linked to the Forestry Committee chair role.
However, as the secret ballot is being conducted by post, the actual results will only be revealed during each committee meeting.
The new chairs will take up their roles during the IFA AGM when a national treasurer will also be selected as Martin Stapleton’s two-year term is finished.
If another candidate does not come forward, Stapleton looks set to secure a further two years.
Despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the organisation is hoping to hold the event in-person; a date and location for this is yet to be announced, but is expected shortly.