NEW LIMERICK IFA county chairman, Aidan Gleeson, intends to harness the power of the county’s almost 3,000 IFA members over the next four years.
The 39 year-old Ballyorgan man was unanimously elected to succeed outgoing chairman Eddie Scanlan last week.
The former Limerick Macra chairman, and Limerick IFA secretary and environmental chairman, has been seen as a leader in waiting for many years.
The suckler and livestock farmer on 150 acres said he intends to uphold the traditions of the county chairman who have gone before him.
“One of my career highlights and what really got me more deeply interested in IFA was going on the tractorcade in 2003. I drove from Ballyorgan in a tractor to Merrion Square,” said Mr Gleeson, who paid tribute to outgoing chairman Eddie Scanlan.
Then then IFA president, John Dillon, organised that tractorcade to drive home to the Government that “farmers’ backs are to the wall like never before” due to budget cuts, bad weather and rising input costs. Those words are as relevant today as 2003.
“I have a very strong team around me. It is not about one man; it is about teamwork with all the officers, chairpersons, branches and the farmers backing us up.
“That is 2,900 odd members in the county. You have that power behind you when you are talking to politicians, meat factories, banks, the Department of Agriculture. I will lead those farmers as best I can over the next four years,” said Mr Gleeson, who attended Glenroe National School, Scoil Pol in Kilfinane and studied agricultural science in Waterford IT.
On the night William Staunton, Galbally and Andrew Egan, Cappamore received IFA honorary life membership for their outstanding, loyal and long service.
Mr Gleeson said they were a great example to follow and said it was a privilege to be elected.
Mr Egan told the packed room about protests in the 1960s. He recalled blocking the Dublin road despite garda objections and during a commodity strike running through Todds on O’Connell Street to escape a detective. “I got away from him too,” smiled Mr Egan.
“The IFA is much needed at the moment,” he added.
Mr Staunton said the strength of the IFA is in its membership.
“I would never like to see the membership lose the right to vote for the president and deputy president. Never let headquarters elect the president, never forget the grassroots - they are sacrosanct,” said Mr Staunton.
Mr Scanlan thanked all the officers, commodity chairs, development officers and everyone he has worked with for their help and support over the last four years, and warned Mr Gleeson time will fly.
Mr Scanlan reflected on his busy four years. The expected closure of the DVO office in Raheen, revealed in last week’s Leader, drew his ire.
“There should be some level of service, especially for older farmers who cannot do things on-line. A total closure is not acceptable. The staff there are very good and served farmers well for decades,” said Mr Scanlan.