Jim Maguire, former chair of National Co-operative Farm Relief Services (NCFRS), has received the Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society’s annual ‘Plunkett Award’ for his contribution to the co-operative movement in Ireland.

Maguire, from Beglieve, Bailieboro, Co Cavan, served on the board of NCFRS from its formation in 1980 until 2006. He was elected vice-chair in 1983 and was chair of NCFRS from 1986 to 1999. He was also formerly chair of the Cavan and District Farm Relief Services.

He received the accolade on Monday at an ICOS award ceremony attended by co-op industry leaders.

The Plunkett Award for ‘Co-operative Endeavour’ acknowledges the work and contribution of an individual in the co-op sector. It is named after ICOS founder, Sir Horace Plunkett (1854 – 1932).

Award ceremony

Jim Maguire’s wife Mary and sisters Kay Maguire and Mary O’Reilly joined him for Monday’s celebrations. The ICOS ceremony was also attended by ICOS President James O’Donnell and CEO T.J. Flanagan and by NCFRS group CEO Colin Donnery, deputy CEO Donal Slattery and chief financial officer Siobhan Dooley.

Maguire (centre) with ICOS president, James O’Donnell (left) and CEO T.J. Flanagan (right). \ Fennell Photography

Presenting the Plunkett Award, O’Donnell said Maguire’s work has been “integral to the progress and development of Irish co-operative farming and his contribution cannot be overstated”.

He said that the Cavan man’s career “demonstrates his dedication to making a real difference in people’s lives” and that he has “worked tirelessly in this pursuit and in the interests of rural communities”.

“From the formation of the NCFRS, he has been an advisor, mentor and friend to those he worked with. He has been the steady hand that those around him have turned to and trusted at all times. Truly, he is a pillar of our co-operative ideals and the benefits of our original guiding ethos of better farming, better business and better living,” O’Donnell said.

Early days

Ceremony attendees were told that Maguire demonstrated his commitment to co-operative ideals early in his career with his involvement in a subcommittee set up by Cavan Macra in 1977 which set up a relief milking service, and in turn, established Cavan’s FRS co-operative in 1980.

Maguire led numerous negotiations with government departments on behalf of FRS co-ops and as chair of the NCFRS, he is said to have played a crucial part in developing the organisation and leading it to success.

The Cavan man also served on the board of Breffni Integrated CLG, a community-led local development company. He further worked with the Cavan LEADER Local Action group and was involved in local group water schemes.