Archive for June, 2010

Farmers urged to turn from law to mediation

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Irish Independant

By Caitriona Murphy

(from left) Tom Dawson, Rea Group; Mark Fielding, ISME; Minister of State for Labour and Reform of the Public Service Dara Calleary; Richard Rea, Rea Group; Evelyn O’Donnell. Donal T Ryan & Co solicitors; barrister Michael O’Connor and Oliver Ryan-Purcell, Rea Group agri-law consultant, take a break at the launch of the Rea Group Mediation service in Cashel, Co Tipperary

Ireland is now regarded as one of the most expensive countries in the world for litigation.

A typical farm-family dispute over a will in the circuit court is estimated to cost a minimum of €15,000 plus VAT for each side.

However, Rea Group, the Tipperary-based farm consultancy firm, has launched a new mediation division, which, they argue, could cost significantly less for individuals involved in farm disputes.

Led by well-known solicitor Oliver Ryan-Purcell and barrister Michael O’Connor, the new division will handle succession and inheritance issues, neighbour disputes, landowner/ tenant problems, commercial leasing, shareholder disputes and large debt recovery.

Speaking at the launch of the mediation service, Mr Ryan-Purcell described litigation as “going for the jugular”.

“The court process is cumbersome, expensive, time consuming and stressful,” he said.

“Using mediation could avoid decades of litigation. A mediator’s intervention at an appropriate time could save hundreds of thousands of euro in court costs.

“It could be the difference between the happy survival of a united farm or family business on the one hand or the destruction of a farm or business and an unending feud on the other,” he added.

Barrister Mr O’Connor said mediation would be very useful in a farm scenario where the father leaves everything to one child and the other children immediately challenge the will.

“If there are several claims, that means the sale of the farm,” said Mr O’Connor.

“There is a winner-takes-all aspect to court litigation, but mediation offers an alternative and is now being encouraged through the court system,” he added.

Mediation is a simple process involving one or more meetings between a mediator and individual parties to the dispute or the parties together.

The mediator guides and facilitates the process by helping the parties to explore all options to achieve settlement.

Top famers have necessary skills to succeed in other businesses

Saturday, June 26th, 2010

Irish Examiner

By Joe Dermody

Saturday, June 26, 2010

SUCCESSFUL farmers have all the managerial skills they need to thrive in the non-farming business world, says one leading agri-business advisor.

Richard Rea, MD of Tipperary-based Rea Group, said that those who succeed at farming have the work ethic, realism, innovative ideas and adaptability needed to succeed in most avenues of business.

He says farmers are the most likely source of Ireland’s badly needed next generation of entrepreneurs — people who can create and sustain employment without having to depend on the state, foreign direct investment or double-talking bankers.

“Ireland needs more people like Liam Griffin (hotelier) and Sean Quinn (insurer), people who are not afraid to take a risk and make a mistake,” said Richard Rea.

“Larry Goodman never went to college. He started out skinning carcasses when he was 16. The people who create jobs are most mostly people who’ve been to the university of life.

“A lot of those economic commentators, the Dublin 4 brigade, wouldn’t know how to create a job to save their own life. People like me are getting fed up of the Dublin 4 set devoting all their time to analysing the past and where it all went wrong, but serving up no clues as to where our future lies and no answers to the credit shortages in the agricultural sector.”

Offering strategic advice to farmers since 1975, the Rea Group re-launched this week to promote its expanded range of agri-business advisory services.

Its website,, features clients who certainly give substance to Richard Rea’s claims for rural ingenuity. The seven testimonials all feature former farmers who now collectively employ more than 200 people.

A few years back Tom and Pat Hennessy launched Manor Stone, a successful stone and garden business built out of a quarry they found on their farm in Co Laois. They now employ over 40 people.

Angus Wilson was a young, ambitious man when he took over the family’s six-acre farm in Armagh in the 1980s. Angus wanted an extra revenue stream. He tried goats, but his second idea fared better. His specialist premium potato business, Wilson’s Country, now employs 100 people.

“I believe that Ireland has become overly dependent on big foreign companies,” said Richard Rea.

“Foreign investment is important, but it won’t solve the job shortages Ireland is now facing. More than 60% of the businesses in Ireland are small indigenous companies.

“People who become unemployed, or whose farms are struggling, should not be asking ‘how can I get a job?’ They should be asking ‘how can I use my skills to create a business?’ We can help people through the development stage, and they can get 75% LEADER funding for the feasibility study.”

So what characteristics do those farmers who succeed in business have in common?

Richard Rea says: “Most of the farmers we have seen succeed in business were ambitious people. They had gone as far as they could with farming, they were bored and they wanted a challenge.

“They had management ability and a strong work ethic.

“They made their move as much for a sense of achievement as for the extra income. After all, a new business can take six to seven years to make any money, what with paying back bank loans and the interest.

“Anyone who has been successful as a farmer can be successful in business. Anyone who has not succeeded as a farmer would probably be better off as an employee.”

This story appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Saturday, June 26, 2010