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Tom Murphy
Professional Agricultural
Contractors of Ireland

A giant among leaders

At this time of the year, you will get streams of advice about preparing your machinery for the coming season.

Padraig Walshe was a giant among leaders in the agricultural sector and his legacy is one of the most profound.  Farmers, past and present, benefitted from his endless work both nationally and in Europe. Whenever I met him at meetings, at home and abroad, even if he was in the audience, he never missed an opportunity to advance the case for farmers.  I remember at an international gathering in Brussels with over 2,000 attendees, Padraig stood up, proudly announcing that he was there to represent Irish farmers and he disagreed with the points one of the speakers made. Despite the chair trying to stop him, he delivered what he wanted to say firmly but with courtesy, finally sitting down to cheers and applause. He was a superb lobbyist, one of the best I have ever known. And, he was ahead of his time in his advocacy of Irish farming. Results are not always achieved around the table, particularly in Brussels. Sometimes it’s over lunch with your adversaries, or at Kitty O’Shea’s, a well-known place across from the Commission (affectionately known as ‘the office’), where differences were ironed out and many a difficult issue resolved. 

On behalf of PAC Ireland, I offer Ella and the family our heartfelt condolences and, in doing so, thank Ella for the unstinting support she gave to Padraig over the years.  Rest in peace, Padraig.

Prepare yourself

At this time of the year, you will get streams of advice about preparing your machinery for the coming season. This may incur spending fair amounts of money to ensure the machinery doesn’t let you down. However, when it comes to contractors’ and farmers’ own health, and preparing themselves for the busy time ahead, there is often little investment made! The health of the animals, the land, the fleet are all that matter sometimes. “Ah, sure I’m as fit as a fiddle” most would reply, if you asked them about their health, and I would bet that the majority have not spent a cent on having a health check of their own. It is always better to be forewarned of any health issues and to be able to take preventative action or get early treatment. Sudden illness can be very costly.  A ‘head-in the sand’ approach to health doesn’t just affect you it affects your family, your clients, and your employees. If you suddenly can’t run your business, it can raise doubts of your ability to continue to provide a service to your clients.
For a relatively small amount of money, a complete health check can put you and your family at ease. What’s more, if you need to take action on any health issues it is far better to do this early.

Protect yourself

Many drivers do not have any patience when travelling behind an agricultural vehicle. They often do not appreciate that the tractor and trailer have nowhere to pull in, resulting in dangerous overtaking, and risk of collision. This begs the question as to why, after years of lobbying, the powers that be do not provide places to pull in, not only for agriculture vehicles but also for heavy goods vehicles. The majority of agricultural drivers are courteous and sensible drivers, but it seems to me they can be often accused of inconsiderate driving and accused of being in the wrong. Talking to colleagues in the UK and at meetings in Brussels, the advice to all tractor drivers is to, where possible, install cameras at both front and rear, which could be an essential tool in proving no fault in the event of an accident.