There was a change at the top table at the Laois IFA AGM in the Abbeyleix Manor Hotel on Monday night as Francie Gorman’s term as chairman came to an end and John Fitzpatrick was elected unopposed to the role having serving as vice-chairman for the past four years.
There is a maximum four-year term for officers in the IFA and there was widespread change to the main roles.
Warm tributes were paid to Francie Gorman as he finished up in the position. From Spink, he represents the Ballinakill branch. And the job isn’t going too far as new chairman John Fitzpatrick is from the Spink branch and is a neighbour and old school mate of Francie.
John is an organic suckler farmer having made the switch over to organic back in 2005. As well as being the most recent IFA vice-chair, he also has served as rural development officer, treasurer and in a variety of roles in Spink.
The new chairman was among those to praise the work done by his predecessor, citing his “dedication and honesty”.
“And I would like to see you go further in the organisation Francie. The organisation would be a better place if you did.”
“I can assure you that the Laois voice was heard at national council,” said the new IFA president Tim Cullinan who addressed the meeting. “And in a very good way. There was no better man than Francie to challenge the top table.”
Laois IFA president Jim Holland said that “Francie put his heart, soul and body into the job” and “went over and beyond in what he did”.
“I’m immensely proud to be a member of the IFA,” said Francie himself in his speech. “We deliver for farmers and we probably don’t get enough credit for what we do.
“We don’t get everything right and we do get things wrong. But without the IFA we’d be a lot worse off.
“I enjoyed my term very much.”
He praised former president Joe Healy who came in at a time when the association was beset by controversy surrounding the salaries paid to its top staff.
“It was not a happy time for the IFA,” he added. “But it’s an organisation worth fighting for.”
He also thanked the elected representatives in Laois, Damien McDonald, the Laois resident who is the IFA Director General, Teresa Walsh and Willie Dolan in the IFA regional office in Tullamore.
He’d a special word of thanks for president Jim Holland for “his advice and counsel”, and also to his wife Kay and five-year-old son Tom “who now wants to go to the meetings as well!”
Outgoing Treasurer Paul Maher from Rosenallis presented Francie with a watch as a token of appreciation for the work he had done over the past four years.
New chairman John Fitzpatrick said it was “a huge honour and privilege to hold this position”.
“I’ve a great love of this organisation.
“We have to put a big push on farm incomes. The least you deserve is a margin for what you produce.”
The AGM, which was attended from farmers from all around the county, also heard from new IFA president Tim Cullinan, a pig farmer from Toomevara in North Tipperary.
The influence of the IFA, the upcoming election, CAP payments, the struggle being faced by the beef and tillage sectors and environmental issues were among the issues addressed.
The list of Laois officers for 2020 is as follows:
- President – Jim Holland
- Chairman – John Fitzpatrick
- Vice-chairman – Henry Burns
- Secretary – Anne Marie Aird
- Assistant Secretary – James Ramsbottom
- Treasurer – Michael Knowles
- PRO – Joanne Claxton
- National Dairy Committee Chairman – Tom Phelan
- Laois Livestock Chairman – Declan Hanrahan
- Laois Farm Business Chairman – Pat Hennessy
- Laois Sheep Chairman – Joe Burke
Keep in touch with LaoisToday this week for more coverage from the Laois IFA AGM