Farm Ireland

Wednesday 26 October 2016

IFA and FBD in stand-off over role for former president

Claire Mc Cormack

Published 27/09/2016 | 02:30

Eddie Downey
Eddie Downey

FBD and the IFA are at loggerheads over the company's refusal to appoint former IFA president Eddie Downey to its board of directors.

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Joe Healy, president of the IFA, nominated Mr Downey for the position earlier this year.

The tradition of the IFA president sitting on the FBD board, and receiving a €30,000 director's fee, became a major issue during the election campaign.

However, the company, which offers car, home, business and farm insurance, has not accepted the proposal.

An FBD spokeswomen said the company has always "invited the sitting IFA president" to join the board as a non-executive director.

"FBD has extended this invitation to the recently elected President of IFA, Mr Joe Healy, to join the board as a non-executive director, subject to the approval of the Central Bank," she said. "As an industry leader, democratically elected by the IFA's extensive membership base, they have always brought deep insights to the board into farming and general agricultural industries," she said.

The company said there is "no provision" for the IFA to nominate an individual to serve as a director of FBD.

"This may differ from other companies and organisations where certain IFA officers become directors ex-officio or others, where the IFA actually has the right of nomination," she said.

However, Mr Healy contends that Eddie Downey, who resigned last November following revelations over the pay and remuneration of former IFA General Secretary Pat Smith, is the "ideal candidate".

"The person on the board of FBD has to be able to give it time, more time than the IFA president has.

"We feel that the former president, who has met farmers all around the country, would be well aware of all the issues," he said.

"We're going to go back and sit down with them and see where we can go because it is very important that there is a farmer representative on the FBD Board and I feel that the former president has the ideal experience to fit the bill," he said.

Mr Downey said there should be "no difficulty" with his appointment. "The farmer's voice on FBD needs to be heard very, very loudly and I don't think it's being heard now.

"I want that position, I know I could do a good job there," he said.

"They are very negative on it, but I'll wait and see. I think the experience I could bring would be of value to FBD," he said.

"Sometimes these boards need people who don't always agree with everybody on them," he added.

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