A Quilty, Clare farmer has confirmed that he will be contesting the next General Election as an independent candidate.
Joseph Woulfe – who has been self-employed from his early 20s – took over the family farm, following his father’s passing.
“Growing up, we were largely self-sufficient, having had our own beef, chicken, milk and vegetables,” explained Woulfe to That’s Farming.
He admitted that taking the reins of the family farm was challenging, but he received invaluable support from family members, neighbours and friends.
“When I took over the farm, I quickly saw that cattle prices had not changed in twenty years or so, but the cost of production had.”
“I taught, perhaps, it was me, but after having conversations with numerous farmers, I realised that this was not the case,” Woulfe added.
Joseph worked in retail and also carved out a career as a barber; he opened a barbershop at Ennis Mart, which is still in operation under the management of Gerry Ryan.
“Being self-employed has taught me to be open-minded and to listen to others for their wisdom.”
“Growing up on a farm and being the eldest, you are trained to be a leader and oversee tasks and duties.”
“As life pushes on, you bring your knowledge with you to whatever career you wish to procure.”
Beef Plan Movement
In more recent times, he joined the Beef Plan Movement and is the current chairman of the Clare branch. “I was the first in Clare to join the group and went to its first meeting in Tullamore in October 2018.”
“I brought messages back to Clare, armed with posters and flyers and a desire to create a change.”
“I was met with some smiles, anger and laughter and comments such as: ‘you can’t get farmers together’, ‘they won’t support each other’ and ‘farmers don’t protest’.”
With the help of a committee of ten, meetings were held across Clare and within approximately five months, the group had north of some 700 members.
“We informed people of what happens in our industry and got their backing. We protested over TB issues, calf exports, cattle prices and Mercosur,” he added.
During this period, in May 2019, the farmer narrowly missed out on a seat in the West Clare Municipal District.
“I ran in a five-seat position and on the first count, I was in for the last seat but as transfers came into play after the sixth count, I was out of luck.”
Following his defeat, Woulfe received encouraging text messages, calls and Facebook messages. “People said they want a representative that is not afraid to stand up against the odd to make a difference in our industry.”
“They said they want a person that has not had a cushy up-bringing, has a bit of street-smart and the ability to speak up for the people of rural Clare.”
In response to this, the former mobile barber will content the General Election in Clare. “My aim is to be in the Dáil next year,” he revealed to this publication.
“Rural places are being left behind – we need to be allowed to have a reasonable income without the well-known anti-competitive practices.”
The independent candidate has called for a health system that “puts patients first” and the implementation of policies which “encourage rural life to grow once again”.
“I would like to see the youth return to put light in the houses and villages that have been dark for too long.”
“I will be going door-to-door to see what more issues the people wish to see improved.”
“With your support, I aim to be in the Dáil to represent, you, the people. Get the Woulfe in the door. This Woulfe will protest rural life.” Woulfe concluded.