Former IFA president Eddie Downey has been appointed as the chairman of Fine Gael’s internal agriculture, food and rural development platform.
That meth dairy, poultry, and tillage farmer was voted on Saturday ahead of former TD contender Pat Deering for Carlow-Kilkenny at the committee’s first AGM in Tullamore.
Speaking after his victory, Downey said he looked forward to the challenge of strengthening relations between FG members, the Parliamentary Party and the Front Bench on Agricultural Policy.
“I know I’m coming to the party three years in government, and the most negative place you can possibly be, but I think there are huge opportunities and I want to use my voice for rural Ireland and Hopefully we will be able to put forward policies that will make a real difference.
“So many areas have been unfairly portrayed in the past that, as far as I am concerned, climate change is a positive for rural Ireland.
“Instead of telling people what we are going to take from them, we should tell them what we are going to give them like solar panels, wildlife corridors, planting trees on the fields, how we take care of hedgerows – we As farmers want to do so, but we need a system to reward us.”
Asked, on a personal level, what it meant to return to agricultural politics seven years after his resignation as IFA president in 2015, he said: “This situation will be very different in the sense that I have the IFA capable huge support. Will not structure. Give me.
“But it’s really nice to be back in a position where you have the opportunity to do something and have a voice because I get so frustrated when I can’t use my voice.
“When I put myself forward as a candidate I didn’t put any preconditions, but I’m making two right now – I won’t take any money or expense to get the job done. I’m so fond of Fine Gael and rural Ireland Feel strong, I’m giving a little behind, I want to do that.
“I didn’t know anything about expenses last time and all of a sudden I got into this thing and it blew up in my face – I won’t let that happen this time.”