Settling into new role as Donegal IFA chair

DONEGAL’S new IFA Chair, Joe Sweeney from Dunfanaghy is set to travel to Bluebell, Dublin, this week for his first National Council Meeting.

Farming from an early age, Joe attended Ballyhaise Agricultural College after secondary school before going on to study farm management for three years.

Newly qualified as a farm manager, Joe managed a farm in Inishowen for ten years before he went to work for the Inishowen Development Partnership, a local development company where the focus is working with farmers and fishermen.


Eager to continue his studies, Joe then attended Maynooth where he studied a science degree in rural development.

In 2003, after completing his studies Joe decided it was time to move back home to Dunfanaghy from Inishowen where he then took over his family farm.

Speaking to the Donegal News, Joe said his farm consists of suckler cows and sheep.

“I still travel from Dunfanaghy to Inishowen every day. I would farm in the morning before I would go, travel to Inishowen to do it all over again and start again when I get home in the evening.

“That is how I have operated for twenty years,” he said.

As if Joe wasn’t busy enough, he has recently been elected IFA Chair for Donegal.

Speaking about his new role he said he is just getting to grips with it.


“I am now responsible for running the organisation in the county. There is nothing really new in it as I have been doing a lot of the work already through my own work.

“My new role consists of organising meetings, attending meetings and representing the issues and needs of the farmers at different levels,” he said.

Joe said although he was delighted to be elected, he was surprised.

“I was proposed from a lot of the branches throughout the county. It originated in Inishowen and then sort of grew legs. A lot of it went over my head at the time of being nominated but when it came to it, you were asked if you were going to accept the nomination and that’s when you really had to think about it.

“Although I was surprised, the job doesn’t frighten me. The job will be difficult but I think I will be well able for it,” he said.

So far Joe has attended a few meetings, met with the Minister for Agriculture, met with the Junior Minister for Agriculture and attended a regional meeting.

He added that his plan for the future is to take the organisation with him for the next four years and to try make the best of it.

“Farming is going through a very challenging time and the way farming is run is changing.

“The phone keeps beeping, between calls and messages there are problems and there are queries, you have to deal with them and get on with them. It could go from seven in the morning to half eleven at night.

“We have to put the right supports in place to help our members,” he said.

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