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Stability and a return to the grassroots needed – not divisive elections

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John Donnelly: National IFA President, 1994 to 1998, says stability is now the key priority. PHOTO: JOE O'SHAUGHNESSY.

FORMER Galway IFA National President, John Donnelly – one of the most respected farming voices in the country – has told the Farming Tribune that the last thing the association needs now is a divisive election campaign.

He has called for the Executive Board of the IFA to resign their positions and for the association’s 29 county chairs and the national committee chairs, to call a meeting with a view to amending the rules on all elections.

“What the IFA doesn’t need now is a divisive election campaign that could end up doing more damage to the association. This is a time to steady the ship and to get some measure of stability back to the association over the next six months,” Mr. Donnelly told the Farming Tribune this week.

He said that the National Committee Chairs should, over that six month period, take responsibility for handling policy in their own areas with the county chairs taking on the task of highlighting and lobbying on the main farming issues in the run-up to the General Election.

“Like everyone else, I’m very saddened and disappointed at what has happened the association over recent weeks. I was also shocked at the pay levels that came out – no one is worth that king of money,” said John Donnelly.

The Executive Board of the IFA is made up of the president, general secretary, deputy president, four regional chairmen and the treasurer.

President Eddie Downey and General Secretary, Pat Smith are already gone but the rest of the Executive Board remain in place namely: Deputy President, Tim O’Leary; Tom Turley, Chair Connacht; James McCarthy, Munster; James Murphy, South Leinster; Bert Stewart, Ulster/North Leinster; and Jer Bergin, National Treasurer/Returning Officer.

“For the overall good of the association in this current crisis, I think it’s important for the executive board to step down. The onus then goes back to the county chairs and the national committee chairs, to restore stability to the association, and the first thing they should do is to amend the rules to suspend any elections for the next six months,” said John Donnelly.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

Farm buildings can be used as business hubs in rural areas

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Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind)

RURAL farm buildings should be utilised for small business enterprises which would supplement the income of landowners as well as creating some local employment in the process.

This was the view of the vast majority of Galway councillors who passed a motion that buildings directly relating to farming be considered for other purposes that would be financially advantageous to the owners.

The matter came up for discussion at a meeting of the Galway County Development Plan when it was suggested that the farming community needed to be allowed develop small business opportunities.

A motion from Cllr. Declan Geraghty (Ind) – deviating slightly from Galway County Council policy – proposed that they be allowed carry out businesses such as the servicing and repair of machinery, land reclamation, drainage works, and agricultural contracting was carried.

The motion added that this be allowed where it is financially advantageous to locate in a given area and where it would not have an adverse impact on the environment.

The Williamstown councillor said that it could result in hundreds of small business enterprises being developed out of farm buildings.

“At the moment they cannot get planning permission for such enterprises given that they are located in a rural area,” he argued.

He was supported by Cllr. Pete Roche (FG) who went further by saying that even the establishment of pet farms or animal farms that could be opened up to the public were also options that could be considered.

“There are farm families at the moment who cannot earn a decent living out of agriculture alone and would relish the opportunity to diversify,” he added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Slurry: don’t waste a drop

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Pat Murphy: Slurry never as valuable.

FARMERS have been strongly advised to get ‘absolute maximum use’ from their slurry this Spring – with little sign of a price reduction in bag fertiliser.

Connacht IFA Chair, Pat Murphy, told the Farming Tribune, that it was never more important to get ‘every last bit’ of value from their slurry than it was this year*. He also advised that it probably was best for farmers purchasing fertilisers to ‘buy as you go’ in the hope that prices might come back a bit during the Summer.

“For the fertiliser that has already been manufactured during the peak of the high gas prices, we certainly don’t think that this is going to come down in price through the early Spring.

“We do know that natural gas prices have eased off over recent weeks, but we simply don’t know how much of an impact this will have on prices over the coming months.

“Most farmers will be looking at a reduction in the volume of fertilisers they are buying this Spring with urea selling at over €900 a tonne – so, maybe a buy as you go policy might be the best tactic,” said Pat Murphy.

He added that the current dry spell of weather – coinciding with the end of the closed season for spreading slurry in the west on January 15 last – was at least some good news for farmers with tanks full or almost full.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Dog attacks on sheep must be stopped

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David Harney, Galway IFA Sheep Representative, is calling for tighter controls on dog ownership and accountability.

RENEWED calls have been made this week to put tougher measures in place as regards dog attacks on sheep as the lambing season approaches.

Stricter imposition of the microchipping requirement along with tougher penalties for those who don’t comply with this – as well as tougher penalties for dog owners whose pets are found worrying sheep – have been called for.

Galway IFA Sheep Representative, David Harney, said that said that the number of dog attacks on sheep was grossly under-reported, due to the lack of action from authorities when sheep kills and sheep worrying were reported by farmers in the past.

“There are very few sheep farmers in the country who have not had the horrendous experience of finding their flock savaged by dogs, yet the official figures recorded only 241 such incidents in 2020,” he said.

Over the course of the past year, IFA representatives at national level met with Agriculture Minister, Charlie McConalogue, and Heritage Minister of State, Malcolm Noonan, to try and get tighter dog controls and sanctions in place.

For the past year or so, the IFA have put in place a ‘No Dogs Allowed’ policy on farms in an effort to get more action on the issue of dog controls in farming areas.

According to the IFA, there are an estimated 800,000 dogs in the Republic of Ireland but only 207,866 of them are licensed, leaving nearly 600,000 canines without identification of ‘association to a responsible keeper’.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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