IFA elections: Row escalates as Waterford nomination ‘deemed invalid’

A row that escalated after the re-election of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) dairy chairman in Co. Waterford has now ended up in the hands of the organisation’s headquarters to sort out, AgriLand has learned.

Last month the county dairy chairman position – which had been held by Mark Conors – was contested by Breda Keane; however, her nomination was “deemed invalid” on the night of election after county chairman Kevin Kiersey determined that it had not been approved at branch level.

Keane, unhappy with the decision, then took the matter to the IFA’s national Rules and Privileges Committee.

I deemed Keane’s nomination invalid and didn’t accept it on the night. Mark Conors was returned because, as far as I was concerned, he was the only one with valid credentials.

Kiersey went on to say that when the matter was then taken to the Rules and Privileges Committee and subsequently adjudicated upon, county executives became “very unhappy” when the findings were revealed.

As a result, members brought a motion forward at last Tuesday night’s (February 5) meeting calling on the association’s Rules and Privileges Committee secretary, Bryan Barry and chairman Tim Cullinan, to “step down” from their positions.

“I am not happy at all with what has happened; we are all very unhappy with the results from the Rules and Privileges Committee, and indeed with how the matter was dealt with by it,” added Kiersey.

HQ intervention

The Co. Waterford IFA chairman went on to say that he was now faced with a situation where “further steps” would have to be taken by the county executive to deal with the matter once and for all.

Once we get an outcome from HQ – and I would expect HQ to deal with this as a matter of priority – we will deal with this situation.

The IFA’s National Dairy Committee represents Ireland’s 17,000 creamery milk producers; members are elected by the association’s 29 county executives.

Its chief issues include: milk prices; input costs; dairy farmers’ incomes; industry developments and investment.