Former IFA President Eddie Downey has been appointed Chair of Fine Gael’s internal Forum on Agriculture, Food and Rural Development.
he Meath dairy, poultry and tillage farmer was elected ahead of candidate Pat Deering, former TD for Carlow-Kilkenny, at the committee’s first annual general meeting in Tullamore on Saturday.
After his victory, Mr Downey said he looked forward to the challenge of strengthening links between FG members, the Parliamentary Party and the front bench of agricultural policy.
“I know I’m coming into a party after three years in government and the most negative place you could possibly be, but I think there’s huge opportunity and I want to use my voice for rural Ireland, and hopefully we will be able to do that to advance policies that will really make a difference.
“So many areas have been misrepresented lately, as far as I’m concerned climate change is positive for rural Ireland.
“Rather than telling people what we’re taking away from them, we should be telling them what we’re going to give them, like solar panels, wildlife corridors, planting trees on farms, a change in how hedges are tended – we as farmers want around it.” to do, but we need the system to reward us.”
When asked personally what it means to return to agricultural policy seven years after stepping down as IFA President in 2015, he added: “This position will be completely different in that I won’t have the huge support structure that the IFA had give me.
“But it feels really good to be back in a position where you have the opportunity to do something and have a voice because I get very frustrated when I can’t use my voice.
“I don’t put any pre-requisites when I present myself as a candidate, but I’m doing two now – I won’t accept any money or expenses to get the job done. I feel so strongly about Fine Gael and rural Ireland, I give back, I want to do that.
“Last time I didn’t know anything about expenses and all of a sudden I ended up in this thing and it blew up in my face – I’m not going to let that happen this time.”
https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/news/politics/downey-makes-comeback-to-farm-politics-under-fine-gael-41629661.html Downey returns to farm politics under Fine Gael