Kerry Co-op elections are in full swing this week.

There is heightened interest in the regional co-op board elections as the chair is up for re-election in December.

Current chair Mundy Hayes has come in for criticism in the past from some shareholders, with much talk of discontent at board level also.

Last year Hayes was challenged by Pat Rohan for the post, but Hayes won out, seemingly on a vote of 12 to nine.

Depending on the outcome of the board elections, it is thought there could be another heave against Hayes and the balance of power could swing.

This is a key juncture for Kerry Co-op, with billions of euros of shareholder money in the balance.

Joint venture talks with Kerry plc for the dairy business are on hold, with further board divisions emerging throughout the 2021 negotiations.

One of the most anticipated elections was postponed this week in Hayes’s own jurisdiction because of what was described as a technical error on the form.

On the ticket on Monday were Willie Slattery and John O’Sullivan. The Irish Farmers Journal understands those eligible for voting got a text message on Monday evening to say the vote was moving to a walk-in vote only event rather than a meeting and discussion.

This was shortly followed by another text message which suggested there was a technical error with the voting form and the vote was postponed.

Some farmers are suggesting it emerged that one of the candidates was ineligible under the co-op’s rulebook. Other farmers say the same form is being used for other regions and are asking if they are ineligible now also.

No one from Kerry Co-op was available to comment on this.

On Tuesday, Shane Wall was elected in the Listowel advisory region.

At the end of 2020 there were 21 directors representing nine advisory regions. James Devane, Patrick Gerard O’Sullivan, Tim O’Connell and Martin Crowe moved off the board last year and James Tangney and Denis Donovan joined in December 2020.

James Devane and Patrick Gerard O’Sullivan retired and were not replaced.

The number of board members was reduced from 28 to 21. A further reduction will bring the board down to 19, with East Kerry down one this year, and West Kerry down one in 2022.