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Sinead Farrell, ICOS Financial Controller; T.J. Flanagan, ICOS CEO and ICOS President Martin Keane at the ICOS agm in Portlaoise, Friday 19 May 2017. Picture: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie NO REPRODUCTION FEE

At the 122nd ICOS AGM held on Friday 19th May, ICOS President Martin Keane issued a call to arms for co-op leaders to show strong leadership for the benefit of their members.

He said that “on behalf of our members, our neighbours and friends, the people who elected us, we must show strong, decisive leadership, take tough decisions; always in the long-term interests of our members”. He noted that 2016 will be remembered for some time as the year when all our perceptions of ‘normal’ were challenged due to Brexit and the election of Donald Trump in the United States.

“We are now faced with dealing with the outcome of these events. This is very pertinent to us, as we are in the business of leadership. As an organisation, we need to provide leadership to our members, to demonstrate a way to tackle the challenges facing us. That doesn’t mean telling people what they want to hear, or pretending our problems can be made to go away.”

“ICOS has an important role to play in supporting us to show that leadership. Through its training programmes, mentoring, and advice on rules and governance, it is a resource and a support to co-op directors to ensure that they can exercise that leadership responsibility, so that you can deliver for your members, while complying with your legal responsibilities, and creating strategies to strengthen and build your own co-ops.”

Martin Keane concluded that Brexit will be a profound and mammoth challenge to the agri food sector. “A strong co-operative movement is needed now more than ever before to ensure that farmers continue to shape and control the future direction of their industry,” he concluded.