The National Council of the IFA has voted to allow postal ballots for the election of officers at national and county level.
Under Rule 73, the National Treasurer and Returning Officer Martin Stapleton has responsibility for execution of all elections and election procedures in IFA.
The deadline for branch AGMs has been extended by four months to July 2021, to allow branches the maximum flexibility to hold their meetings into the Spring and Summer months.
He said, “Given the circumstances presented by COVID-19, and the restrictions imposed by public health guidelines, the Council has decided to proceed with all elections that fall due this year. Meetings in person are not possible under current public health restrictions, so we have to put alternative arrangements in place”.
“Our ambition is to hold all elections for County representatives on National Committees that fall due between now and Christmas. Already this year, both the Chairman of the Liquid Milk Committee Keith O’Boyle and the Vice-Chairman of the Livestock Committee Declan Hanrahan were elected by a postal ballot,” he said.
Martin Stapleton said the approval from National Council is in line with other adjustments that have been made to facilitate the normal functioning of IFA business under exceptional arrangements in view of COVID-19, without making any permanent changes to the IFA rules and constitution. “COVID-19 has certainly presented a challenge in terms of how we carry out our business, but we are committed to overseeing the holding of Branch AGMs and votes by County Executives, as we would any other year,” he said.
“Operating the IFA structures during COVID-19 has required flexibility. Our National Council and National Committees have been functioning effectively through remote meetings. Our County Executive meetings have also gone online since the Summer, with attendances growing as members become more comfortable with the technology, although access to broadband remains a challenge,” he said.
“Our officers were able to conduct a very effective pre-Budget lobbying campaign through a mixture of socially-distanced meetings, both indoor and outdoor, and online,” he said.
“To ensure the maximum levels of integrity and to facilitate as many members as possible to vote, the National Council decided that our elections at national and county executive level will go ahead by postal ballot.”
“Elections are a critical part of IFA’s democratic structures and we will continue to hold them as they fall due. The restrictions could be with us for some time,” he said.