Tirlán shareholders have overwhelmingly voted in favour of a series of proposals to enhance the co-op’s governance structures.

The rule changes, agreed at a special general meeting (SGM) in Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny, this Wednesday will promote more gender balance and younger representation.

Thirteen new positions have been created on the 89-strong council, which will all be filled by women. At present, only one woman sits on the council.

A further 33 positions have been created on the regional advisory boards from which the council is selected, again to be filled by women. Over time, the council will revert to its previous size, but the gender quota will remain.


Tirlán chair John Murphy welcomed the hugely positive shareholder response to the recommendations.

“Shareholder approval for this set of progressive proposals marks a major step towards positioning the co-op for the future. The world has changed significantly since the last review of our representative structure was undertaken over two decades ago.

“The changes to the composition of the representative structure, youth groups and investment in education through the Tirlán governance academy will all help to further strengthen and ensure the vibrancy of our co-op. I’d like to thank all of our shareholders and the committee who carried out such a comprehensive review.”

The series of recommendations was developed through an extensive consultation process with the farmer advisory council of Tirlán, the co-op’s 11 regional committees and individual members.


Tirlán CEO Jim Bergin said: “It is important that we have a balance of youth, gender and a diversity of thought across our representative structure to enable us to operate to international best practice across all forms of organisations. I truly believe that today is a watershed day on our journey towards becoming a ‘co-op of the future’.”

The proposed changes were presented by a sub-committee of the Tirlán board, chaired by vice-chair Brendan Hayes.

“We believe these changes will ensure our co-op is equipped to continue to deliver for our members. We recognise that in line with agriculture in general in both Ireland and internationally, we face challenges around diversity of age and gender."


A governance academy to build knowledge, confidence and social connection at all levels of the membership structure is being set up, with minimum training requirements for board and council eligibility.

Young farmer groups to educate young people about the co-op structure, encourage greater involvement and build a strong succession pipeline are being created.

A grain advisory group is also being established for Tirlán suppliers. Maximum term limits will be put in place across the co-op's representative structures.

A review of board composition will commence shortly, with proposals to be put to the co-op by the end of next year.