Young people from the 31 Macra regions nationwide descended on the Loughrea Hotel in Galway last weekend for Macra na Feirme’s national AGM.
Macra National President, Kieran O’Dowd, finished his two-year term and handed over the chains of office to the National President, Seán Finan of Castlerea Macra, Roscommon.
The AGM kicked off with a review of Macra over the past year before Mr O’Dowd, along with his three Vice Presidents, Paddy Delaney, James Healy and Seán Finan officially stepped down. The 35th National President then took up his role. Seán Finan was joined by three newly elected vice presidents, Gerard Griffin, Munster VP (Mitchelstown Macra), Odile Evans, Leinster VP (Johnstown- Coolgreaney Macra, Wicklow) and Caroline O’Dowd, North West VP (South Sligo Macra).
In his inaugural speech, Seán Finan called on Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney to fund a farm-safety programme in schools following the worst year for farm deaths since 1991. He also called on young farmers to take the lead in promoting farm safety among family, neighbours and friends.
At the end of the formal proceedings, delegates, along with members from clubs all over the country, were treated to one of Macra’s premier competitions as the final of the Impromptu Debating competition took place. This competition was lively and entertaining.
Mitchelstown Macra, having previously come through regional and national rounds beat Kilmacthomas in the semi final on the night but were unlucky in the final being beaten by South Leitrim Macra who won following a split decision by the judges.
Speaking to The Avondhu, Gerard Griffin from Barnahown, an agricultural college teacher and part-time farmer said as incoming Munster Vice-President he would like to take the opportunity to thank the outgoing Vice-President, James Healy, for his hard work and dedication to Macra over the last two years.
“He has made a great contribution to the continued development of Macra in Munster and nationally and I wish him well in his future endeavours. Macra has grown consistently locally over the past five years, I hope to help further this development by working with clubs and counties throughout Munster to encourage participation in Macra’s six key areas of Agriculture, Travel, Community Involvement, Performing Arts, Public Speaking and Sport.”
Gerard has been an active member of Macra na Feirme since 2005 and was involved in the re-establishment of Mitchelstown Macra in 2010. He has held the positions of treasurer, chairperson, PRO and regional delegate for his own club while at county level has been regional treasurer, Young Farmer secretary and chairperson of the Development Committee.
Gerard was the previous National Council Representative for Avondhu, and is involved with the Agricultural Affairs Committee at a national level. He is also the Macra Representative on the Teagasc Agricultural Education Forum and has represented CEJA, the European Council of Young Farmers at the European Commission working group on Farming and the Environment.
The new Munster Macra VP wants to focus on growing Macra in Munster and using his experience as a teacher in an agricultural college to increase awareness about what Macra has to offer for students. He takes the view that if the valuable work Macra clubs do is promoted, it can only encourage support which will lead to growth.