The IFA leadership must be watching some of the Rugby World Cup in between all the recent protests. On Tuesday, when Charlie McConalogue faced them outside the Fianna Fáil think-in at the Horse and Jockey, Tim Cullinan told him they would only speak to his captain, Micheál Martin.
They duly got their meeting with the Tánaiste, but will treating the Minister for Agriculture as a messenger boy have consequences? After all, he’s the one holding the whistle.
It’s been a fraught few days, between the hostile atmosphere with ICMSA running the gauntlet of other farm organisations.
History has a great habit of repeating itself, or in this case, inverting itself. In the 1960s, the IFA passed an ICMSA protest on their way into a meeting with Government.
The IFA’s fury was in part due to becoming aware of the Commissioner’s decision by reading it on www.farmersjournal.ie. This was despite being members of the agriculture water quality working group set up by the minister. How this gets de-escalated is anyone’s guess, as the IFA convoy heads to Limerick for the Fine Gael think-in on Friday.
I am rarely shocked anymore, but I have to confess I was surprised to see the name of Francis Foley, the current Kerry IFA forestry chair, on the list of ratified candidates for the Munster regional chair.
My understanding is that a disciplinary process is pending against Foley, but is currently parked. It’s part of the same process that saw former Kerry IFA dairy chair Michael O’Dowd suspended from holding office for four years following an independent external investigation.
The Kerry executive remains divided, chair Kenny Jones, the complainant in the process earlier spoken of, was re-elected earlier this year by a single vote.
Meanwhile, a group of up to a dozen county officers have been calling for Jones to step down, and want the disciplinary process effectively cancelled and restarted.
Now that Foley is a candidate for a national officer’s position, the lid is bound to come off. Last Monday, Kerry IFA members received a text saying that the executive meeting scheduled for that evening was having its busy agenda, which was to include IFA executive Tomás Bourke as guest speaker, significantly altered.
Due to the ongoing protest at the Horse and Jockey, the meeting would now comprise of a single item – the ratification of candidates for the upcoming national and regional IFA elections. That matter could not be postponed, as nominations were closing at lunchtime on Tuesday.
So no one bothered to turn up at Monday evening’s meeting, except Foley and about a dozen supporters. Surprised to find an almost empty room, they duly nominated him for Munster regional chair.
Curiouser and curiouser.