James O’Donnell has been elected president of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS), taking over from Jerry Long who has retired after three years in the role.
Mr O’Donnell has served as vice-president of the national sector body for the past four years and has chaired its Finance and Governance Committee and Rural Business Committee. A dairy farmer from Golden, Co. Tipperary and a member of Dairygold Co-op, he serves as chair of South Tipperary Farm Relief Service Co-operative, and represents the National Co-op Farm Relief Service on the ICOS board.
The vote, at an ICOS board meeting, also saw Edward Carr, chair of Arrabawn Co-op, elected vice-president. A dairy farmer from Milestone, near Thurles, Co. Tipperary, Mr Carr is a member of the ICOS Dairy Committee.
Mr O’Donnell said, “I’m honoured to lead ICOS at such an important time for our entire sector. I thank my board colleagues for the trust they have placed in me where I will represent and promote the best interests of our co-operative movement across Ireland. I congratulate and look forward to working closely with incoming vice-president and with all board and committee members of ICOS, and with our constituent co-operatives.
“The Irish agrifood sector makes an immense contribution to our national economic competitiveness and success. It is underpinned by farmer-owned co-operatives whose members and leaders are committed to wholesome, naturally based food production, environmental protection and the long-term sustainability of our sector, all of which ensures economic viability for farm families and rural communities, national food security and our export led contribution to global nutrition.
“Irish agriculture has the capability to produce the highest quality foods with one of the lowest carbon profiles of any other agricultural systems worldwide. This can and must be sustained through viable mechanisms for the future. I am confident that this will be realised through the continuing deployment of existing and ongoing measures to protect the environment, proactive emissions reduction on a realistic basis using all available resources and technologies, and the overall commitment which we are prioritising for sustainability across every aspect of our co-operative enterprises.”
ICOS currently represents 130 co-operative enterprises in Ireland, with over 150,000 individual members, a combined turnover of €14bn and employing more than 12,000 people.