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Former agri president to run in local elections

March 28th, 2024 7:00 AM

By Emma Connolly

Rural Ireland ‘overlooked’, says Dermot Kelleher.

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FORMER president of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Association (ICSA) Dermot Kelleher is to run as a candidate for Independent Ireland in the upcoming local elections.

Standing in the Macroom district, Mr Kelleher said he was putting himself forward to run for Cork South West TD Michael Collins’ party to make a stand for the agriculture sector which he said is ‘over regulated.’

The suckler farmer from  Inchigeelagh said he had been thinking of getting involved in politics for some time, but he was motivated to put his name forward as he feels farmers are being ‘scapegoated’ in the climate crisis.

‘When it comes to water quality, agriculture is being blamed for being the main cause of the problem, which I don’t think is the case,’ said Mr Kelleher (70). He also feels that rural Ireland is being ‘overlooked’, and run by ‘men who have never lived in rural Ireland.’

He said he was inspired by the work of Deputy Collins to run as a candidate.

‘His advocacy for vital healthcare services, such as Bantry General Hospital, resonates deeply with me, particularly after the recent passing of my beloved wife Mary.

‘It gave us great comfort to know she passed in Bantry hospital rather than a large general hospital potentially lying on a trolley. It is this and the great work that Michael Collins does that made me decide to run for Independent Ireland,’ he said.

Deputy Collins said Mr Kelleher’s ‘leadership and advocacy have been invaluable to the farming community.’

‘His decision to join our party speaks volumes about our shared commitment to representing the needs of our communities. His experience and dedication will be invaluable assets in our pursuit of real change for farmers, for rural Ireland and for the whole country,’ said Deputy Collins who founded the party with Independent TD, Richard O’Donoghue, who is based in Limerick last November.

In addition to his agricultural advocacy, Mr Kelleher emphasises the importance of food regulation and the need for an independent food regulator to safeguard the interests of farmers and consumers.

‘The establishment of a food regulator is a significant step forward, but we must ensure that it operates independently to deliver transparency in the food chain. I will continue to advocate for the autonomy of the food regulator to protect the interests of farmers and consumers,’ he said.

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