The CEO of Horse Sport Ireland (HSI), Damian McDonald, was announced as the new director general (DG) of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) this Wednesday morning.

So who exactly is the IFA's new boss?

McDonald grew up on a dairy, beef and pig farm in Crossabeg, Co Wexford. He is a son of Albert and Angela McDonald and he currently lives in Stradbally, Co Laois with his wife Siobhan his three children Mark (17), Kate (15) and Sean (13).

As our sister paper The Irish Field reports, McDonald, a Wexford man, took up his current role as CEO of Horse Sport Ireland in 2007 and his departure comes at a watershed period for the national governing body of equestrian sport as it is undergoing a review by Indecon.

Irish Field reporter Isabel Hurley says that as the first CEO of Horse Sport Ireland, Damian McDonald had the "unenviable task of trying to bring together the disparate multi-faceted strands of the €700m Irish sport horse industry during his years in the hot seat.

"With over 20 affiliates under their wing, representing everything from show jumping, eventing, dressage, breeding right down to polo and carriage driving, the job of CEO was regarded by many industry insiders as something of a poisoned chalice," she said.

"The late former Minister for Agriculture, Joe Walsh, picked McDonald for the role, largely in part for his diplomatic skills and his ability to bring the best out in people and unite the various organisations they represent," she continued.

Listen to a discussion of Damian McDonald's appointment in our podcast below:

Listen to "IFA appoints director general" on Spreaker.

While over the years, he has been subject to strong criticism from some quarters, Hurley says the general view is that McDonald did much to both establish Horse Sport Ireland on a firm footing and to unite the often very separate elements of the unwieldy Irish sport horse industry.

The 10-year strategy Reaching New Heights, launched last year by former Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, now forms the blueprint for the industry.

Current Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed recently announced Indecon's review into Horse Sport Ireland, much along the lines of those undertaken into Horse Racing Ireland and the Greyhound industry.

Experience in agriculture

For all his experience in the equestrian industry, MacDonald also has extensive experience in the agriculture sector, serving as CEO of young farmer organisation Macra na Feirme between 2001 and 2007. He was also agricultural policy officer in Macra na Feirme between June 1997 and March 1999.

McDonald also has previous experience in the IFA having served as the livestock services manager for direct payments and animal health in the organisation between 1999 and 2001.

His other professional experience gives extra weight to the perception that McDonald is not a man who shies away from leadership roles.

He was team leader for the Irish equestrian team during the London Olympics in 2012 and a governing body member of Dublin Institute of Technology between 2001 and 2007.

He has a masters in economics from University College Dublin as well as from St Peter's College in Wexford.

Lover of sport

A great lover of sport, he has a keen interest in hurling and football. He coached the DIT hurling team while a member of the governing body and he was a selector on Dublin under 21s team.

McDonald's parents Angela and Albert keep sport horses and thoroughbreds at the family residence in Crossabeg, Co Wexford.

His sister, Niamh McDonald, finished as a runner-up in the Irish TV show The Apprentice in 2010.

Additional reporting by Caitriona Murphy

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