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Picture Dylan Vaughan. Repro: Free, No Charge for Repro 6Ð4-2023 Pictured at the official opening of Tirl‡nÕs new headquarters and collaborative hub at Abbey Quarter, Kilkenny is Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Simon Coveney TD who officiated at the opening with from left Tirl‡n Office Facilities Manager Mary Banks; Tirl‡n Chairman John Murphy; Tirl‡n Chief Executive Jim Bergin; Kilkenny County Council Interim Chief Executive Se‡n McKeown and Ireland Strategic Investment Fund Investment Director Sarah Hickey. The Tirl‡n headquarters and collaboration hub is located within the Abbey Quarter Development, Kilkenny, which is an urban regeneration initiative between Kilkenny County Council and the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF). The new offices are designed as a blended workplace in line with Government aims on flexible working and the regeneration of towns and cities. There is a strong focus on sustainability throughout the building. The hub has a footfall of over 650 employees a week, as the state-of-the-art facilities and meeting rooms are available for collaboration by those working across the 11 Tirl‡n high-tech processing facilities and 52 agri-branches throughout Ireland. Tirl‡n recently marked a year since it acquired the full ownership of the dairy and grain operating business, formerly known as Glanbia Ireland. The now 100% farmer-owned Co-operative trades under the new identity of Tirl‡n. It operates as an entirely separate entity to Glanbia plc, which retains its current name. Picture Dylan Vaughan.

The Board of Tirlán Co-operative Society has released a series of proposals to modernise the Co-op’s governance structures and increase diversity across Tirlán’s Committees, Council and Board, with a more gender-balanced and younger representation.

The proposals were outlined to the Farmer Council of Tirlán Co-op on Thursday, 15 June and will be presented to regional committees over the coming weeks. The proposed changes, which are subject to Member approval at a Special General Meeting (SGM) to be held later this year, were broadly welcomed by Council delegates.

The proposed changes were presented by a sub-committee of the Tirlán Board, Chaired by Brendan Hayes, who stated: “We were asked to review Tirlán’s current representative structure and ensure it is appropriate for the modern and dynamic ‘Co-op of the future’ that Tirlán aspires to be. In doing so, we recognise that in line with agriculture in general both in Ireland and internationally, we face particular challenges around diversity of age and gender.”

The key recommendations include:

  • The formation of a Governance Academy to build knowledge, confidence and social connection at all levels of the membership structure, with minimum training requirements for Board and Council eligibility. This will offer a broad range of accredited courses to Tirlán Members;
  • Creation of Young Farmer Groups to educate young people about the co-op structure, encourage greater involvement and build a strong succession pipeline;
  • The formation of a Grain Advisory Group, as a forum for the business to exchange views with professional grain grower Members that supply Tirlán;
  • Promoting greater gender diversity in the Co-op structures by creating new seats on Regional committees and Council that will be available to women joining the representative structure;
  • Proposing maximum term limits on Committees, Council and Board – allowing new people more opportunities to participate while still retaining experienced members.

Brendan Hayes said that in formulating the proposals, the Board sub-committee had consulted widely with Members and external experts. “We were delighted to have had excellent engagement at focus groups with young people and women. Over 1,100 members responded to our survey. We also worked closely with ICOS and travelled to Brussels to learn from best practice in European and other international co-ops.”

Tirlán has also confirmed that a review of Board composition will commence shortly, with proposals to be put to Co-op Members for consideration in 2024.