Tirlán shareholders back changes to governance structure

11 October 2023
General News

Tirlán shareholders have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a series of proposals to enhance the Co-op’s governance structures and facilitate increased diversity.

The series of progressive rule changes will empower the representative structure to operate to international best practice, with more gender-balance and younger representation. 

At the Special General Meeting (SGM) in Lyrath Hotel, Kilkenny, Tirlán Chairperson John Murphy welcomed the hugely positive shareholder response to the recommendations from a sub-committee of the Board focused on positioning the Tirlán representative structure for the future.

“Shareholder approval for this set of progressive proposals marks a major step towards positioning the Co-op for the future. The world has changed significantly since the last review of our representative structure was undertaken over two decades ago.

“The changes to the composition of the representative structure, youth groups and investment in education through the Tirlán Governance Academy will all help to further strengthen and ensure the vibrancy of our Co-op. I’d like to thank all of our shareholders and the committee who carried out such a comprehensive review.” 

The series of recommendations was developed through an extensive consultation process with the Farmer Advisory Council of Tirlán, the Co-op’s 11 regional committees and individual members. 

Tirlán CEO Jim Bergin commended shareholders for once again showing their foresight and courage to embrace the future. 

“It is important that we have a balance of youth, gender and a diversity of thought across our representative structure to enable us to operate to international best practice across all forms of organisations. I truly believe that today is a watershed day on our journey towards becoming a ‘Co-op of the future’.” 

The proposed changes were presented by a sub-committee of the Tirlán board, chaired by Vice-Chairperson Brendan Hayes, who highlighted the support and excellent engagement that the group had received from so many farmer shareholders during the detailed rounds of consultation as the proposed changes were developed.

“We believe these changes will ensure our Co-op is equipped to continue to deliver for our members. We recognise that in line with agriculture in general in both Ireland and internationally, we face challenges around diversity of age and gender. These new proposals will help us to encourage greater participation over the coming years.”

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.

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