Who’s who

An overview of some of the key players in the agri-food industry on the island of Ireland.

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine: Simon Coveney TD

Simon Coveney holds a B.Sc. in Agriculture and Land Management from the Royal Agricultural college, Gloucestershire. Simon was first elected to the Dáil in 1998 and was elected to the European Parliament in 2004.

Representing Cork South Central, Simon was appointed as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in March 2011 and the Defence portfolio was added to his brief in July 2014.


Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Minister: Michelle O’Neill MLA

A qualified welfare rights advisor, Michelle ONeill was first elected to Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council in 2005 and in 2006 was the first woman to take the role of Deputy Mayor for the borough.

Elected to the local Assembly in 2007, ONeill has held the position of deputy Chair of the Committee for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. On 16th May 2011 she was appointed Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development.

BordBia Chief Executive: Aidan Cotter

Aidan Cotter was appointed Chief Executive of BordBia, the Irish Food Board, in July 2004. Previously, Cotter served in BordBia as Director of Operations and earlier gained extensive experience in the marketplace as the organisations European Director, based in its London office, and prior to that in Dusseldorf.

Cotter holds an MBA from Cranfield School of Management in the UK and has Masters degrees in Economic Science and Agricultural Economics from University College Dublin (UCD). In September 2013, he was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Law from UCD.




Teagasc Director: Gerry Boyle

Gerry Boyle is Director of Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority, which provides an integrated research, advisory and education service for the agriculture and food industries. He took over as Teagasc Director in October 2007. Since his appointment he has overseen the integration of advisory, education and research functions in Teagasc into a unique, integrated model of research and knowledge transfer. He is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the National University of Ireland and was head of the Economics Department at NUI Maynooth. He is also a Member of the Royal Irish Academy.

IFA National Chairman: Jer Bergin

A farmer by trade, Jer runs a suckler beef, tillage and sheep farm at Ballacolla and has been involved with the IFA for more than 20 years at branch, county, regional and national level.

He is a former vice-Chairman of the IFA national livestock committee and has served on the IFA national council for over 13 years and has previously held a range of key positions at local level including that of Laois county Chairman.


UFU Chief Executive: Wesley Aston

Wesley Aston grew up and still lives on a small livestock farm in Markethill. He started his employment with the UFU in 1991 as Policy Officer for Pigs, Poultry and Fish Farming and has represented the Union at local, UK and EU levels.

Aston has been centrally involved in the UFUs activity on virtually all of the major issues affecting Northern Irelands farmers over the past 24 years, before taking up the position as Chief Executive in 2015.


BordIascaighMhara Chairman: Tara McCarthy

A Bachelor of Commerce graduate with an MBS in Marketing from Smurfit Business School; Tara operated in overseas markets for over 10 years in Germany, France and Belgium.

Previously, Tara was Director of the Food and Beverages Division in BordBia and has led a team of senior executives on the development of the seafood, dairy, prepared foods; alcohol and small business sectors.


Oireachtas Committee Chair: Andrew Doyle TD

Representing the constituency of Wicklow-East Carlow, Andrew is currently the Chairman of the Oireachtas joint committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

He was first elected to Dáil in 2007 and as part of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2013, he hosted a conference in Dublin Castle with EU member states Parliamentary Agriculture Committee Chairs from all 27 countries.


Agri-Food Strategy Board Chair: Tony O’Neill

Tony ONeill is Chair of the Agri-Food Strategy Board, the advisory board appointed by the DARD and DETI Ministers which produced the Going for Growth Report. He is also Group Deputy Chief Executive of Dunbia Ltd. Alongside these roles, he is Joint-Chair (with the DEL Minister) of the Future Skills Action Group, Director of NI Food Chain Certification and past Chair of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association.


Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute Northern Ireland Chair: Colm McKenna

Colm McKenna enjoyed a successful career with Bank of Ireland where he led the bank’s Treasury and International Banking division, advising clients on risk and export management strategies.

Following early retirement in 2008, he holds a number of leadership positions in the Northern Ireland public sector. In addition to AFBI, he is involved in health, urban regeneration, justice and the Northern Ireland Assembly.


LMC Chairman: Gerard McGivern

Gerard McGivern is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a Fellow of the Institute of Economic Development and has served as the Chair of the LMC since November 2015.

Gerard has been involved at a senior level in a number of district councils in various marketing roles including leading the formulation and delivery of the Mourne Mountains and Ring of Gullion Tourism Marketing Brand.



Northern Ireland Rural Development Council Chief Executive: Teresa Canavan

Teresa Canavan is Chief Executive with the Rural Development Council (RDC), a role she took up in 2013 having been employed with the RDC since 1997. A graduate in Business Studies, Teresa also holds a Masters in Rural Development. She is involved in rural community development at a local level as a representative on her local community group. Teresa has also completed an Advanced Diploma in Business Management with the Ulster University, Jordanstown, in partnership with Boston College.



FSA Director for Northern Ireland: Maria Jennings

Maria Jennings was appointed Director of the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland in September 2013.

Maria has held various positions in the Agency and has been responsible for developing legislation and policy in relation to food safety, food standards, imported food control and food fraud, as well as nutrition and dietary health. Maria is a Chartered fellow of the Institute of Environmental Health and a member of the Food Safety Promotion Boards Advisory Committee.


Assembly Committee Chair: William Irwin MLA

Representing the constituency of Newry and Armagh, William is currently the Chairman for the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

First elected to the assembly in 2005, William has served as Deputy Chair of the Committee for Culture, Arts and Leisure and was a member for the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee before being appointed its Chair in September 2014.

Related Posts