Tributes have been paid to Padraig Walshe, the Laois man who was a former president of the Irish Farmers Association, who died suddenly on Wednesday.
The Durrow man was president of the IFA from 2006 to 2010 and was a massive figure in farming and political circles.
“I am saddened to learn of Padraig Walshe’s passing,” said Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue.
“Through Macra, IFA, FBD and COPA, Padraig was a strong advocate for the family farm model.
“He represented all sections of farming with commitment and distinction. My thoughts and prayers are with Ella and all the Walshe family.
“Very sorry to hear of the untimely death of Padraig Walshe,” added Laois-Offaly Fine Gael TD Charlie Flanagan.
“(He was a) fearless campaigner in support of farm families and rural Ireland all his life. May he rest in everlasting peace.”
IFA President Tim Cullinan said the farming community was in shock at the news.
“This is devastating news for his family. On behalf of the farming community, I want to extend our condolences to his family and friends. This is a huge loss for them and it’s a very difficult time,” he said.
He said Padraig Walshe was a passionate advocate for the development of the farming sector and always insisted that science was the way forward. Through many campaigns at home and abroad, he was fearless in defending farmers.
“Padraig Walshe leaves a strong legacy of leadership of farmers, from his time as President of Macra na Feirme, to President of the IFA and also as the first Irish leader to head up the European group of farmers COPA.”
Tim Cullinan said that Padraig Walshe served farmers with distinction in a career that stretches back to 1987 when he was elected President of Macra na Feirme.
He subsequently served as Chairman of the IFA Dairy Committee and as IFA National Treasurer.
In 2006, he became the 12th President of the Irish Farmers Association and in 2009, he had the honour of being elected by farm leaders from across Europe as President of COPA.