WHAT was described as an ‘inspirational and stellar’ career and contribution by West Cork native and retired Carbery Group chief executive, Dan MacSweeney, was recognised at a black tie event last Thursday at the Hodson Bay Hotel in Athlone.
The hugely-respected executive, currently chairman of Bord Bia, accepted the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from ICMSA president, Pat McCormack, whose association sponsored the category and were one of the principal sponsors of the whole event with Zurich Insurance and the Farming Independent.
Mr McCormack said that Mr MacSweeney’s reputation within the Irish dairy sector was unrivalled and he was the very definition of someone who had, by dint of hard work and innate talent, risen to the top of his chosen profession: ‘Dan MacSweeney’s retirement from the Carbery Group marked the end of a very significant and revealing 25-year career that demonstrated conclusively that he is that rarity – an ultimate professional who knows his business perfectly and an ultimate leader who, by virtue of knowing his colleagues and their capabilities perfectly, is able to get the best out of them and the whole team.
‘It’s unusual to have even one of these qualities; to combine both marks an individual out as truly exceptional,’ said the ICMSA president
‘It was a testament to Carbery, and the atmosphere of the West Cork dairy sector, that Mr MacSweeney’s exceptional abilities were recognised and given room to flourish, and he then repaid that faith by steering the group from strength to strength.
‘It’s very interesting for us, as farmers, to note that the most notable method he chose to show the strength of Carbery was through the milk price the member co-ops paid to their farmer-suppliers. Dan MacSweeney always understood – and still does, I’ve no doubt – that the foundation stone of our whole multi-billion euro dairy sector is the man or woman milking their cows.
‘They are not an afterthought to be thrown whatever few cents are left after everyone else has taken their share; they are the basis for the whole sector and everyone else relies on the work and expertise of the farmer-suppliers. The price they get should reflect that.
‘Dan MacSweeney understood this, and the Carbery Group reflected his understanding in that it consistently, over years and decades, topped the farmer milk price league. I wish that others in the sector occasionally gave some signal that they understood that the whole sector is nothing without the farmers and their milk – or their beef or tillage or pigs – and we’ll live in hope,’ noted Mr McCormack.
‘In the meantime, I’d like to say that I’m honoured to present Dan with this award tonight on my own behalf, on behalf of ICMSA and on behalf of the farmers of Ireland who know a friend when they see one,’ said Mr McCormack.