'Farmers need a strong, unified and effective IFA like never before'
Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30
Last January, in the National Convention Centre, the IFA put on a display of pomp and power. It was celebrating its 60th anniversary and the overwhelming message emanating from this superbly organised event was what a powerful organisation it had now become.
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan, various Government Ministers and captains of every industrial sector in the land, were there to laud the association. And rightly so.
Being there, one got a real sense of the IFA's power and influence, and why any minister, of any government, would tangle with this great national organisation at his or her peril.
Yet, the seeds of the controversy that has left the IFA in organisational disarray, had already been sown.
It was in August last year that Con Lucey wrote to senior officers of the association explaining why he was "resigning forthwith" as chairman of its Audit Committee (AC), alleging "unacceptable interference" by then chief executive Pat Smith.
Even without the benefit of hindsight, and the meltdown of the past fortnight, the lack of response by Eddie Downey and the other senior officers to Mr Lucey's letter was baffling. Yet, they have insisted they were working hard behind the scenes within the rules of the organisation to deal with issues.
So it lay there, like a ticking time-bomb, and even when four county chairmen of the association put forward a motion of no confidence in Mr Smith last January, a counter-motion expressing confidence in Smith was carried by a majority of the National Council.
Of course, every person in any position of leadership with the IFA is now clinging to Con Lucey like a child clings to its comfort blanket.