O’Beirne slams IFA hierarchy as Connacht ‘chair’ row continues

John O’Beirne has strongly criticised the hierarchy of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) over the way that they have dealt with the long-standing vacancy for a Connacht chairman.

  The Strokestown man, a candidate for the position, said that they had treated him disrespectfully and have “no leadership”. Existing criteria for the Connacht IFA role were “undemocratic”, he added.

  The saga over the vacancy of the Connacht IFA chairman’s position has been ongoing since last December, when Tom Turley quit.

  In early February, Mr. O’Beirne was the only candidate nominated for the position, but his nomination was deemed invalid because he combined his job as a postman with his role as a farmer. According to IFA rules, only full-time farmers are eligible for the position. 

  The nomination process was reopened and Mr. O’Beirne took leave as a postman, but again a problem materialised.

  All candidate must have the backing of two counties’ IFA leadership, but this time all five Connacht counties nominated one of their own members. So, effectively, no candidate was deemed valid.

  Mr. O’Beirne is furious with the IFA leadership over their failure to resolve both issues and proceed with an election.

  He said that the Roscommon executive sent a resolution to the National Council calling for a rule change to allow a farmer who also works “outside the farm gate” to apply for the position.

  He said that the resolution “practically got no hearing”.

  “There was no vote on it. I feel that I am the only person in IFA that has suffered financially since this all started last November,” he said.

  “Nobody in head office – the paid staff – have taken a pay cut.

  “I have put my name forward and I have sat for seven weeks at home from work, waiting for a decision, and no decision has come forth.

  “All we are looking for is a decision from National Council, which is our governing body, about whether they will change the rule to allow farmers who work outside the farm gate to represent their region.

  “If this was any other province, it would be dealt with, but Connacht isn’t important to the National Council.”

  “I am very disappointed. I served as county chairman for four years and as county vice-chair for two years before that,” he said.

  “I have been a life-long member of IFA. And I think anybody that was that loyal to IFA deserved more respect than to be treated this way…”

  Mr. O’Beirne said that he is going to go back to work as a postman. He still intends to be a candidate for the IFA role, adding “I expect that I will not be eliminated for making a stand.”

  He concluded: “In any organisation where you pay your membership and become a member, you should be entitled to go for any position.”