|All-island President: Ray Ryan Guild President Ray Ryan is an award winning journalist who began his career with The Kerryman in 1963. He moved to what is now the Irish Examiner as a regional news reporter in 1972 and was appointed agricultural correspondent in 1998, a position he held until his retirement in 2010. He continues to write for the paper and other publications. In 2004, he was the joint winner with his colleague Brian O’Mahony of the Guild’s top agricultural journalism award, “The Bull”, and in 2010 he was honoured with the AIB Award for having made an outstanding contribution to communications in rural Ireland. More recently, he has served as a member of adjudication panels on three successive occasions for the Guild Awards. He was elected Guild President in 2017. A native of Ballydesmond, Co Cork and a resident of Mallow, he is also a founder member of the Guild of Equestrian Journalists of Ireland.
International Delegate: Brian Donaldson Brian Donaldson has been a member of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland since 1996. He has served as Chairman of the Northern Ireland Region of the Guild and is a Past President of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland. Elected as International Delegate in 2017, he is responsible for relaying news from the executive of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) to the Guild membership in Ireland. As an agricultural journalist with The Impartial Reporter newspaper in Co. Fermanagh, Brian believes that attending an IFAJ Congress or an international event is a terrific way to see practising ag journalists from around the world working together. Brian was the first agricultural journalist from Ireland to visit the USA in 1999 under the exchange programme between the Guild of Agricultural Journalists and the American Agricultural Editors Association, spending two weeks in the Midwest with ag journalists who are members of the AAEA. He has attended IFAJ international gatherings in Netherlands, Germany, Scotland, England, Norway and Japan. The 2018 IFAJ Congress takes place in the Netherlands in July.
|Richard Halleron, Chairman
Richard Halleron has degrees in both Chemistry and Agricultural Chemistry from Queen’s University, Belfast. He is a former chairman of the Northern Ireland Institute of Agricultural Science and previously chaired the guild’s Northern Section in 2010. He also held the position of International Delegate in 2012. With decades of hands-on experience running his own dairy herd, Richard’s insights into UK and Irish farming are well regarded among those in the sector. His columns and news pieces can be found in Farming Life and AgriLand.
Rachel Martin, Secretary
Rachel Martin specialises in writing about agri-business, food production and dairying in Northern Ireland and is currently based at digital farming news publication AgriLand. Previously, she worked as a news and business reporter at the Belfast Telegraph – one of Northern Ireland’s biggest daily newspapers – where she covered farming and agri-food production for a consumer-focused audience. In 2017, she was named one of IFAJ’s 10 Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism and won a stipend towards the annual congress in South Africa. When she’s not writing, Rachel can usually be found in the milking parlour at home in Co. Down with her family’s 130 cows.
Tom Morrow, Treasurer Tom Morrow is Northern Correspondent with theIrish Farmers Journal , the predominant farming newspaper in Ireland. Earlier in his career he worked with United Dairy Farmers and the Milk Marketing Board for Northern Ireland looking after the farm services side of these businesses.The first step in his career was with Richardson’s Fertilisers after studies in agriculture and agricultural economics at Queens University Belfast. He is currently the treasurer of the Northern Section of the Guild.
Sam Butler, Chairman
Sam Butler is a freelance journalist specialising in food. He is a former Editor of the News Letter, Belfast and a former Business Editor of Today in London. He is a regular contributor to a range of publications including Farm Week, Belfast Telegraph, News Letter and Business Eye. He provides news material in support of Invest Northern Ireland food marketing in Britain, the Republic of Ireland and further afield. He also works with Food NI on promoting food and drink in Northern Ireland. Sam is a former Chairman of the Northern Section.
James Campbell James Campbell is an agricultural journalist with the Irish Farmers Journal (IFJ) – the main newspaper for farmers and the agri-food industry in Ireland, with weekly circulation of over 70,000 copies and multi media coverage via www.farmersjournal.ie.A member of a farming family based near Newtownards in Co Down, James was Northern editor of the IFJ from 1984 until June 2013. He was treasurer of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) from 2008 until 2015. From 2003 to 2008, he was the Irish Guild’s international delegate serving on the executive committee of IFAJ. James was president of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland from 1994 to 1996. He is a past chair of the Northern Section of the Guild, in which he also served as treasurer for 20 years.James is a past chair of the Northern Ireland Institute of Agricultural Science and a graduate of The Queen’s University Belfast, holding the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Master of Agriculture in Farm Business Economics. He also has a post graduate Diploma in Agricultural Communications.
Michele is owner of the Belfast-based PR and Marketing Consultancy MF Communication. Prior to setting up her own business, Michele worked as Group Communications Manager UDV Ireland, (now part of Diageo); as well as for a number of leading PR agencies. She joined the Guild of Agricultural Journalists Southern Section initially, working in agri-PR consultancy alongside the Ireland Guild’s founding member Larry Sheedy. She has been an active member of the Northern Section committee since 2003 including serving as its Secretary under two previous Chairmen. She holds Accredited Practitioner status with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and is a fully qualified Chartered Institute of Marketing Consultant. She is also a founding member of the Marketing Institute of Ireland’s NI committee. Michele has particular interest and experience in agri-food PR and business-to-business PR and marketing. She manages the integrated media relations and PR programme in support of the high profile ‘Diageo Baileys Irish Champion Cow Competition’ on behalf of its sponsors, Diageo and Glanbia Ingredients Ireland. Michele is a past secretary of the Northern Section.
Ian Harvey Ian Harvey is the author of a popular two-page farm diversification series in FarmWeek and runs a small production business which includes voice-overs. Having studied agriculture at Greenmount Agricultural College he ran the family farm in Co. Donegal until its sale in 1973. Trained as a youth organiser in Strasbourg he worked for the national office of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster and then joined BBC Agriculture, Belfast in 1977, retiring after 22 years service as Senior Producer responsible for BBC’s Radio Ulster farming & gardening programmes. A broadcast journalist he produced, presented and directed farming and gardening programmes on both TV & radio, nationally and internationally and was joint presenter and producer from the beginning of the successful long-running BBC NI Farm Gate radio series. He has held office at all levels of the GAJI and has been an agricultural journalist and member of the Guild for 39 years. He now runs his small farm holding near Saintfield, Co. Down.
Gill McNeill Gill McNeill is an NUJ freelance journalist, graphic designer and CIM fellow. With a media background since 1983, Gill is principal of McNeill Media Limited, offering a bespoke cross-platform communication package including PR, design, publishing and event management. Editor – Campbell College, Belfast – alumni. Quarterly consumer – LifestyleGreen. Contributor – Royal College of Nursing – Emergency Nurse Copywriting – Monthly enewsletter – Neutradol. PR/design/marketing – Down to Earth (NI) Limited – NI’s first woodland burial service. PR – Agri-business. Publisher/designer – RUAS Balmoral Show & Winter Fair publications. Gill has been a committee member of the Guild’s Northern Ireland branch since 1992.
Chris McCullough is a freelance multi-media journalist based in Belfast and specialises in all aspects of agriculture. He has spent the past 18 years travelling the globe hunting for the best stories in food, farming and politics. Chris was brought up on a dairy and beef farm in the heart of Northern Ireland. He has reported extensively from overseas, mostly throughout Europe but also from USA, Canada, India, Australia and African nations on various topics. Chris is now writing for media in 21 countries in six continents. He has won a number of awards for his photos and journalism and is always on the lookout for his next exclusive.
Other Northern committee members
Richard Wright, Basil Bayne, Kevin McAuley, Robert Irwin
|Amy Forde – Chair
Amy Forde is deputy news editor with the Irish Farmers Journal, Ireland’s largest agriculture and rural affairs publication. Amy covers a broad range of news and features for the Irish Farmers Journal. She joined the Guild in 2017. In 2019 she joined the committee and was also elected chair in the same year. In 2019 she took part in the IFAJ’s Exposure-4-Development tour to Brazil. Hailing from Galway, she holds an MA in Journalism and Media Communications from Griffith College Dublin and holds a BA in Arts (Geography and Irish) from NUIG.
Maria Daly, Secretary
Maria Daly is communications manager for Europe with animal nutrition company, Alltech.
Elaine Crosse – Treasurer
Elaine Crosse is a communications specialist with Bord Bia. Elaine has worked for the organisation in the promotion of the food and drink industry since 2011 and has since completed the Food Marketing Graduate Programme with DIT. Bord Bia’s multi-functional communications team work across consumer and corporate affairs, incorporating the requirements of the many sectors and stakeholders within the agri-food industry as well as those of Bord Bia’s 13 overseas offices. A proud Tipperary woman, Elaine completed a degree in Business Studies at the University of Limerick before taking up her role in Bord Bia.
Southern Section Committee members: Miriam Atkins
Miriam Atkins is Editorial Director at IFP Media. Prior to this, she was Editor of FOOD&WINE Magazine, Editor of IrishFood Magazine, Deputy Editor of Irish Farmers Monthly, Deputy Editor of Veterinary Ireland Journal, and worked on the Editorial Steering Group for Teagasc’s scientific publication, TResearch. Miriam is a previous Chair of the Southern Section of the Guild. Originally from Wicklow, Miriam has a Masters Degree in English Literature.
Patrick Donohoe is news editor of the Irish Farmers Journal – Ireland’s largest and most successful agriculture and rural affairs publication. In his time at the Irish Farmers Journal, Patrick has been nominated for four Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ awards, winning one of them. He was also part of the Irish Farmers Journal team that won at the 2017 International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ) awards in the Digital Media category. Patrick joined the Irish Farmers Journal in May 2013 having previously been an award-winning public relations practitioner for six years. He also worked as a contributor with the Irish Examiner farming supplement covering a broad range of agricultural issues. Patrick runs a suckler-to-weanling farm in Co Longford.
Liam Lavelle is a television producer with Independent Pictures, one of Ireland’s leading TV production companies. He has worked on the company’s long running farming and rural affairs show, Ear to the Ground for all of its 25 seasons. In addition head has produced many diverse series on food and farming for RTE, TG4 and BBC. He began his career as an agricultural journalist with a trade magazine covering farm machinery, and after a couple of years as a member relations officer in Canada, returned to produce training films for Irish farmers. He began working in television in 1990 and has produced many series on pets, crime, antiques, cooking, travel and music. In recent years have has helped to develop the award winning series Big Week on the Farm, an eclectic live show that covers science, nature and farming for a week in April each year. Liam has been a Guild member since 1980 and has served as Chair of the Southern Section and President of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland. He has four children and lives in South County Dublin and is a keen basketball player with UCD Marian.
Niall Madigan is the National Press Officer for the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), Ireland’s largest farm representative organisation with over 75,000 members. He has worked closely with five IFA Presidents in advising on communications strategies for campaigns at national and European level. He joined the Guild of Agricultural Journalists in 2005 when he took up his role with IFA. Niall served as Secretary to the Guild from 2012-2017. From a farming background in Co Limerick, he worked as a broadcast journalist and current affairs presenter with Radio Kerry from 1997 to 2005. He is a BA graduate from UCD where he studied Politics and Economics.
David is the Publisher of IFP Media, which is the largest B2B publishing house in Ireland. He joined the Guild in 1978 and has served on the committee over the years. He chaired the organising committee for the IFAJ congress, which was held in Ireland in 1996. He has also served the GOAJ as Chairman and President. He was appointed World President of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists in 2004 until 2008. He was made an Honorary member of the Guild in 2011, for his services to the organisation.
Damien O’Reilly Damien O’Reilly is a broadcast journalist with RTE Radio 1 where he has worked since 1998. He presents Countrywide every Saturday morning. In 2012 and 2014, he won the IFAJ star prize for broadcasting and was also named the PPI speech broadcaster of the year for 2015. He has presented numerous other programmes on RTE Radio and was part of the RTE Sport team covering the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 and Rio in 2016. Damien is a former chairman, secretary and treasurer of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists of Ireland. He is a founder member and current secretary of the European Network of Agricultural Journalists. He is also a former Irish executive member of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists (IFAJ).
Gemma Smyth is an accomplished communications professional who has worked with the Irish agri-food industry for more than 14 years. Formerly an Account Director with leading international strategic communications agency, FTI Consulting, Gemma has advised on and delivered strategic communications for some of Ireland’s leading organisations and brands. Gemma’s current client portfolio includes prominent names in the Irish agri-food and drink industry including Bord Bia, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the Agricultural Science Association and the Irish Angus Producer Group, among others. Gemma began her career with Agri Aware, the public awareness body responsible for promoting food and farming in Ireland. In this role Gemma was a recipient of a Guild of Agricultural Journalists award in the ‘Targeted and Technical Communication’ category.