IFA can do more for farmers than splinter groups, declares Harold

January 24th, 2020 10:05 PM

By Emma Connolly

Incoming Munster IFA chairman Harold Kingston (seated second from left), from Courtmacsherry, pictured with – seated from left – Brian Kirby, Barryroe IFA; Ivor Jeffries and Johnny O'Brien. Back: (left to right): Jim Moloney and John Joe McCarthy, Barryroe IFA; Conor O'Leary, Cork IFA, and Jim Moore, County IFA PRO. (Photo: Martin Walsh)

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THE IFA, as one unified voice, will yield far more power and get better results than splinter groups can.

That’s according to the newly-elected regional chair for Munster, Courtmacsherry farmer Harold Kingston who called for all agri sectors to pull together.

Harold, will officially take up his position at the end of this month, and is looking forward to getting stuck into the four-year role.

Top of his priorities is to bridge what he sees as a communication gap with the general membership and to highlight work, a lot of it pre-emptive, that’s being done behind the scenes.

He admitted there had been a breakdown in communication with members, for various reasons.

‘But I really want to get the organisation’s work more visible among the grassroots. There’s a lot of information not getting back; but I feel we’ve a good base to work from,’ he said.

And while the IFA has not lost membership to splinter groups, he said it’s now about showing them the organisation can deliver and getting these people back on board.

He expects CAP negotiations to be the single biggest issue the executive will face during their tenure. ‘It will be about securing a budget and importantly getting it back to farmers,’ he pledged.

Facing into an election, he said they didn’t know what minister they’d be working with, but that building up a good relationship with whoever is in office is paramount.

Harold has spoken openly in the past about his mental health struggle when hit with a heavy workload caused by the long winter of 2018. He later appeared on a Late Late Show panel to talk about burnout.

As part of his new IFA role, he now plans to instigate the training of officials to help others who might find themselves in the same situation. ‘Because of my own experience I was seen as someone that people could relate to and I want to use my position now to act as a catalyst to get services in place,’ he said.

He’s most recently held the title of Cork Central chair and was formerly the National Environment chair.

However, he insists he doesn’t see the role as Munster chair as a stepping stone to becoming national president: ‘This is a specific role and one that I feel I can contribute to right now. I have no clue where I’m going to be in four years time,’ he said.


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