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The late Tom Cahill. Photograph by John Kelly.

Death of farm leader, Tom Cahill

IFA president, Eddie Downey has paid tribute to Tom Cahill one of the nine central figures in the historic Farmers’ Rights campaign of 1966, who passed away last night.

Tom Cahill, from Ballyportry, Corofin, was the last surviving member of the nine farmers who led more than 40,000 farmers in a march to Dublin after which Tom, along with eight other selected representatives, made their way to the Department of Agriculture to meet with the minister.

Tom Cahill (pictured on the extreme right) sitting on the steps of Government Buildings as part of the Farmers’ Rights campaign in 1966.
Tom Cahill (pictured on the extreme right) sitting on the steps of Government Buildings as part of the Farmers’ Rights campaign in 1966.

When the minister refused to speak with the group, they staged a sit-in on the steps outside Government Buildings, which lasted 21 days, before the Government backtracked and agreed to discuss the concerns of the farming community.

IFA president, Eddie Downey said the legacy of the effort and the hard work by Tom Cahill and his farmer colleagues in 1966 is evident in the continued survival of not just the IFA, but the farming community.

Mr Downey said he believed the effort made by Mr Cahill and the farming community in 1966 was extremely worthwhile.

“Tom played a significant part in the achievement of clear recognition by government of the concerns of farmers, and it paved the way thereafter for farmer access to government at the highest level.”

Speaking last year, Tom Cahill said he continued to keep a regular and watchful eye on IFA strategy through The Farmers Journal and he was encouraged to see the continued efforts made by the association at national, European and international level in defending the income and conditions of Irish farm families. Mr Cahill stressed the importance of being mindful of the views and opinions of the non-farming public when considering policy.

Mr Cahill also cited the structure of the IFA as being one of its great strengths in that the term of office for all office holders encourages new blood and new ideas, which ultimately leads to progressive thinking.

On behalf of farmers and the officers of the IFA, the IFA president expressed his deep sympathies to Tom’s family.


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