Farming groups asking members to make up their own minds

Rural organisations encouraging people to use their votes in referendums

The leading farming and rural organisations are not making recommendations on how their members should vote in the referendums on marriage equality and the age of presidential candidates.

However, ICMSA president John Comer said it was his personal view that the age limit for presidential candidates should not be reviewed downwards.

He said the age of presidential candidates was not an issue that dominated his members’ considerations but personally he believed the present age limit was “wise”.

He said some degree of life experience was desirable in the head of state.


Mr Comer said voting in both referendums was “entirely a matter for individual members” and the association would not be taking an official position on either.

He said the ICMSA had always been strictly non-political and, even taking into account the unanimity expressed by all the parties on marriage equality, he felt no pressure from members for the ICMSA “to involve itself in a question that was purely a matter for individual conscience or opinion”.

If any organisation was likely to call for a Yes vote in the marriage equality referendum, it might have been young farmers' and rural youth organisation Macra na Feirme.

In 2013, it announced an initiative with Glen, the gay and lesbian equality network, to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people living in rural Ireland.

No formal position However, a spokeswoman said Macra na Feirme was not taking a formal position on how members should vote in either referendum "but are recommending members use their chance to vote" .

The IFA said it was asking its members to analyse the two issues and turn out to vote, while the ICSA said it would not be making a recommendation on either referendum.

The Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA) said it had not made “and will not be making a recommendation to members to vote either for or against in the upcoming referenda on either marriage equality or the presidential age”.

A spokeswoman said the ICA "encourages its members only to vote".

Meanwhile, Irish Rural Link, the national network representing rural community groups, said the issue had not been raised by members and it would not be taking a stance on either referendum.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times