Some of the IFA members who attended the Leitrim County Executive this week have told Agriland they were ‘dismayed’ to find out that Leitrim could not nominate its own candidate for Connacht Chair.

They say they only found out during the meeting that Leitrim Chairman James Gallagher had promised the county’s signature for the Connacht Chair position to another candidate.

The Connacht Chair position was the last thing to be discussed at the meeting, after Leitrim backed Joe Healy for President and Nigel Renaghen for Deputy President.

Desmond McHugh, current Vice Chairman of Leitrim, was nominated to run when he was proposed by Jim Brennan and seconded by Maureen Murray at the meeting held in Berrys Tavern, Drumshambo.

However, County Chair James Gallagher then told those at the meeting that he had already give the signature to John O’Beirne – Roscommon’s candidate. The Leitrim backing of O’Beirne makes him the only candidate in the field with the necessary signature. Unless a candidate pulls out of the contest, O’Beirne will by default become Connacht Chairman without the need for an election. 

Maureen Murray, suckler farmer and former National Council representative, said that she knew nothing about a nomination for Leitrim or that backing for another county was given before the meeting held earlier this week.

My reading of it is that Gallagher might have jumped a bit quick on this. There’s five counties in Connacht and there’s two dictating it.

McHugh said that there hadn’t been a Leitrim IFA Executive meeting in 37 days and he was “privileged’ and “honoured” to be nominated by Leitrim.

“People were very willing that someone from Leitrim were to go.

As I’ve been nominated I’m prepared to go forward and have received very strong support. There’s a lot of issues out there to be dealt with.

McHugh is a dairy and sheep farmer and has been involved in the Leitrim Executive for 25 years and sits on the Environmental and Rural Affairs Committee.

He has also served on the Farm Business Committee and was a previous Secretary of Leitrim IFA.

McHugh said he is awaiting ratification and co-operation from County Chairman to go forward for the position as was nominated by the Leitrim County Executive.

Agriland tried to contact County Chairman James Gallagher this week, but he was unavailable for comment.