Down at the IFA
THE shortlist of runners for the next IFA presidential election is taking shape as potential candidates step up their grassroots' activities ahead of the December 2013 contest.
Fourteen months out from the ballot, Derek Deane (Carlow) appears in pole position. He finished on 28pc of the vote against the unstoppable John Bryan in the 2009 contest, and branch voting patterns indicate he scored strongly in every county bar Bryan's home base in Kilkenny.
A broad spread of branch support is critical in IFA elections and Deane also has the plus of being highly regarded for his past work in the association.
Outgoing deputy presidents traditionally didn't have much luck in the leadership race until John Dillon broke the mould with his powerful 2002 campaign. The current deputy president Eddie Downey, from Slane, Co Meath, will be hoping to emulate Dillon's achievements.
Downey was very impressive in his 2009 campaign for deputy president and he has stepped up his profile noticeably in recent months. Articulate and capable of a solid presentation on any stage, he will be a strong challenger.
Having comfortably secured the position of South Leinster vice-president at the last election, Jer Bergin, Ballacolla, Co Laois, is considered a certainty to contest the presidency next year.
He is a strong campaigner and has served very effectively at commodity committee level in the association.
Bergin has the potential to become a tough leader, which may be necessary in the challenging years ahead. He is also married to former IFA president Padraig Walsh's sister Ella, so he enters the election race with a formidable power base.
It's odds on that one of the above trio will win the 2013 contest, but more candidates may yet emerge and JJ Kavanagh, the IFA's national treasurer and national returning officer, has not ruled himself out of contention.
"I'm certainly considering the position and will be contesting either the presidency or deputy presidency," said New Ross man Kavanagh.
Outgoing Munster vice-president, Chris Hayes, Roscarberry, Co Cork, is also considering a bid for either president or vice-president.
Outgoing Connacht vice-president, Padraig Divilly from Kilkerrin, Co Galway, is a definite contender for the deputy president position and he is well known across the country after many years of service on several national committees.
Another man in the deputy presidential mix is James Murphy, from Inistigoe, Co Kilkenny, who has been very effective as chairman of the sheep committee.
He has yet to show his hand, but his name is being mentioned quite a bit by farmers as a man they see as having leadership abilities.
IFA president John Bryan will begin the final year of his four-year term in January 2013, and the association will ballot on his successor during the final weeks of the year.
The entire membership of the IFA can vote for both the president and deputy president positions, with the branch vote weighted at approximately one for every 25 member votes cast at each branch balloting session.
- Martin Ryan