Sunday 25 September 2016

Demands grow for disclosure on all past IFA pay and perks

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

The sweets are passed around at a recent sale in Carnew Mart. Photo: Roger Jones.
The sweets are passed around at a recent sale in Carnew Mart. Photo: Roger Jones.

Details about pay to past presidents and general secretaries of the IFA should go further than the Con Lucey report, a former senior officer has said.

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Kevin Kiersey, the national dairy committee chair from 2010-2013, called for the full remuneration of past presidents Padraig Walshe, John Dillon and Tom Parlon, along with former general secretary Michael Berkery, to be made public.

Mr Kiersey made his call at last week's debate between IFA presidential candidates Joe Healy, Flor McCarthy and Henry Burns in Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

Flor McCarthy said there remained a need for "more transparency" in the IFA and he did not see any reason why they could not "go back the whole way".

"The members have to know where the money that is being collected is going," he said.

Joe Healy said structural changes in the organisation were key to ensure they never returned "back to where we were".

However, he highlighted that the IFA's executive council had been split on whether the terms of the payments review should be extended.

"Personally, I think that to move forward they'd have to be brought out," he said.

Henry Burns highlighted that the former general secretary Pat Smith's exit from the organisation was now before the courts.

However, on the issue of disclosure on all the former pay packages, he said: "To move forward we may have to, if that is what the membership wants."

Apology

At the hustings in Waterford, where former president Eddie Downey's wife hails from, Mr Kiersey also asked the candidates whether they would give Mr Downey an apology if they were elected.

Mr Downey stepped down in the wake of former general secretary Pat Smith's exit after it was revealed Mr Smith's pay package had reached almost €1m over two years. Mr Downey later said he felt he was "thrown under a bus" during a meeting of the IFA executive council.

"I think Eddie Downey is owed an apology and if I am president I would look for an apology for him," Mr McCarthy said.

Mr Burns said he personally felt sorry for Mr Downey.

"I think in the fullness of time I think it will be judged a lot differently and I think an apology would be forthcoming," he said.

Mr Healy said he too felt sorry for Mr Downey and would acknowledge all the work that Mr Downey has done for the organisation.

Other issues addressed at the debate included falling incomes in farming sectors and the importance of competition in the beef sector.

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