A Galway man has become President of the Irish Farmers Association.
Athenry’s Joe Healy looked set for a landslide victory from early yesterday, Tuesday.
The counting of votes from IFA members around the country saw the dairy farmer take an early lead but he was closely followed by Kerry candidate Flor McCarthy in the first counts before he began to steer ahead of his two running mates.
Speaking from the count centre at the Castleknock Hotel, Dublin, Mr Healy said.
“I’m surprised at the margin that appears to be there and I’m humbled at the same time but extremely thankful to my team, not only in Galway but around the country.
“They put in a lot of work and a lot of time at a busy time of the year on all farms. I needed every one of them and they gave freely and wholeheartedly of their time.”
Yesterday evening, it became clear that with 88% of votes counted, Mr Healy had received the backing of the IFA members as he held 48% of the vote, with Laois farmer Henry Burns on 31%, and Kerry farmer Flor McCarthy on 22%.
He added, “I will go straight into the job. The way this election came about everything was a bit rushed. People down the years had a month to settle into the job.” In his new role, Mr Healy will attend a meeting with Glanbia today followed by a trip to Brussels tomorrow, Thursday.
During the day long count, it was clear from early on that Mr Healy was the man to beat. At lunch time, the latest count gave an early prediction of the result with 47% of branches counted, Mr Healy was on 5,426 votes followed by Flor McCarthy on 3,803 votes and Henry Burns on 2,580. And this was before any of the Galway boxes were opened, where there was a big turnout to support the local candidate. When the Galway boxes were opened, it showed huge support for the Athenry man.
Mr Healy picked up votes across the county and won the first full county vote, which was Louth. This carried on with wins for Mr Healy in Limerick, Clare, Tipperary North and South, Sligo, Dublin, Cork north and Cork central.
Roscommon, Donegal, Meath and Mayo were among the many others who all gave Mr Healy their backing. He is only the second man from the West of Ireland to be elected IFA President.
“It’s great, there was no county in the country that I didn’t get votes in. Even in the other candidates’ counties, I got votes. It’s a great source of confidence to me.” Mr Healy was previously National President of Macra na Feirme.