Strokestown’s John O’Beirne has expressed disappointment after his campaign to become the new Connacht chairman of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) failed.
The former chairman of Roscommon IFA had been involved in a long and fractious process to become the provincial chairman, but that finally came to an unsuccessful conclusion on Monday, May 9th.
It was announced that day that Eddie Davitt, the Sligo county chairman, and Padraic Joyce, a former Mayo county chairman, had been nominated for the position. There was no joy for Mr. O’Beirne.
Initially, all five Connacht counties had proposed their own candidate, which led to a deadlock because of a rule that dictated a candidate must be supported by two counties. This meant there was no eligible candidate.
At the IFA annual general meeting, it was agreed that a secret ballot of the Connacht county chairmen would take place, which resulted in Mr. Davitt and Mr. Joyce being nominated.
Voting in the election will take place at five county executive meetings to be held over two weeks in mid-June.
Mr. O’Beirne looked destined to fill the position some months ago before he was deemed an ineligible candidate because of a rule, since repealed, that provincial chairmen must be full-time farmers. Mr. O’Beirne, who is also a postman, said that he was disappointed that he had been unable to secure the role.
“Naturally, when you put your name forward, you would be a bit disappointed alright (not to win),” he said. “But I will live without it. I am happy I got the rule changed.”
He said that he wanted the position because he was determined to unite the organisation after the pay scandal of late last year.
“I would have liked the challenge of doing it because I did honestly feel that there is a big divide between the people in Connacht and the IFA in general,” Mr. O’Beirne said. “There are a lot of problems there.
“But having said that, I am quite happy with the two men that are going, and may the best man do it.”
Mr O’Beirne is now being linked with a political position: the seat on Roscommon County Council that has become available since Maura Hopkins, of Fine Gael, was elected to the Seanad recently.
Mr. O’Beirne, a member of the party, did not rule himself out.
“I am a good community man, so I would consider anything that would be for the betterment of the community,” he said.
Fine Gael will hold a Selection Convention to fill Senator Hopkins’ vacant seat in the Boyle Municipal District on Monday, June 13th.