The resignation of Mr Tom Orr as president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union, which was announced last Friday, is not linked in any way with the dispute over the Ministry on the question of members of the President’s Committee serving on marketing boards.
Mr Orr, who is also chairman of the Pigs Marketing Board, hammered home this point when he made the announcement at the Press conference following last Friday’s meeting of the UFU Executive Committee.
“I have given this a great deal of thought; it is simply and solely because I can’t, I feel, serve the industry best by being president of the union and chairman of the Pigs Marketing Board,” said Mr Orr. “I do this solely for the good of the agricultural industry. And I say this in all sincerity.”
Mr Orr pointed out that there was a great deal of work to be done both in the Pigs Marketing Board and the union. By trying to serve on both bodies he would not, he said, be giving the industry the service it deserved. “In taking this decision I have had the full support of the President’s and Executive Committees,” he said.
He expressed the hope that the union and the board would work very closely together in the future, adding that he had tremendous confidence in his successor, Mr William Hamill, and the junior deputy, Mr A E Gibson.
“Certainly, I will play my part as far as possible within the Board,” he pledged.
Mr Orr stressed that his decision had “absolutely nothing to do with the Ministry”. He emphasised that he did not set out to please the Ministry but added: “I am sure that the Ministry is not displeased.”
On the conflict between the Ministry and the union on the question of members of the President’s Committee serving on boards, Mr Orr stated: “It is not yet all resolved.”
Earlier general secretary, Mr W H Gilliland, had pointed out that expressions of appreciation of Mr Orr’s work had been voiced at the Executive Committee meeting. Members had expressed admiration at the unselfishness of his decision to relinquish the position.
Mr Orr’s resignation will take effect on October 31. Mr Hamill will become acting president until May when he will be installed as president for a new term. The present junior deputy president, Mr Gibson, will become acting deputy president. The decisions have yet to be ratified by the UFU Council.
Mr Orr has been a member of the UFU Council for 21 years, occupying the offices of junior deputy president and deputy president before taking up the presidency in May.
An extensive pig producer, Mr Orr succeeded Mr A E Swain as chairman of the Pigs Marketing Board two months after his election as UFU president.