Four people in race to be Macra na Feirme president

Michelle O’Callaghan is fourth woman to make pitch for role at young farmer’s group

The race is on to be the next president of young farmers' group Macra na Feirme with four candidates in the running.

The winner will replace outgoing president Kieran O’Dowd whose two-year term of office will end at the organisation’s AGM in May.

Nominations close in March but the contest began in December when Eamon Cassells from the Athboy, Co Meath, branch announced his intention to run.

He has since been joined by Michelle O'Callaghan from Knockraha, Co Cork; Paddy Delaney from Timahoe, Co Laois; and Seán Finan from Castlerea, Co Roscommon.

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Mr Finan is the organisation’s national treasurer while Mr Delaney is Macra’s Leinster vice president. Ms O’Callaghan is on the national council and executive while Mr Cassells is chairman of the competitions committee.

Mr O’Dowd made waves when he was elected president in 2013 because he was a barrister and not a farmer.

This time, all four candidates are involved in farming, either part- or full-time. Mr Cassells is a full-time farmer while Ms O’Callaghan is studying agriculture and working in Pfizer. Mr Finan is a project manager and farmer while Mr Delaney is a maltster in the brewing industry and part-time farmer.

While it represents the youngest farmers, Macra na Feirme is the oldest farm organisation. It was founded 71 years ago and has had 35 presidents. Only one of those was a woman: Catherine Buckley who was elected in 2007.

Ms O’Callaghan will be the fourth woman to run for president.

Alison Healy

Alison Healy

Alison Healy is a contributor to The Irish Times