Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 27 April 2017

Full election at IFA as board caves to pressure

If approved, the change would mean the current board — including deputy president Tim O’Leary and four regional chairmen — could put themselves forward for a second term.
If approved, the change would mean the current board — including deputy president Tim O’Leary and four regional chairmen — could put themselves forward for a second term.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

The Irish Farmers' Association is moving into full-blown election mode after the entire executive board agreed to all positions being put to the vote of grassroots' members.

It follows mounting pressure from farmers, angered over recent pay revelations. There were demands for all the top officers in the organisation to step aside for a full election.

The six-man board confirmed it had agreed to allow a full round of fresh elections for all the national officer positions, alongside the planned presidential election, in the "best interests of the association".

The unrest follows a pay controversy that saw former IFA general secretary Pat Smith and former president Eddie Downey step down from their posts.

Mr Smith resigned after it emerged his remuneration amounted to almost €1m over two years, with a package of €535,000 in 2013.

A proposal will be put on the table at today's national council meeting at IFA headquarters in Dublin which would see those elected to the top posts taking up the jobs potentially on two terms of two years.

If approved, the change would mean the current board - including deputy president Tim O'Leary and four regional chairmen - could put themselves forward for a second term. The position held by the national treasurer is generally decided at the AGM.

Richard Connell, IFA chair of Cork West, said farmers at a weekend meeting had demanded a full round of elections.

"There was a big call that the full board should step down and get a new mandate," he said.

A protest due to be staged outside the association's headquarters in Dublin is now unlikely go ahead.

To date, seven candidates have sought nominations for the presidency. However, with each person needing the nomination of six county chairs, four can ultimately enter the race.

Henry Burns, the chair of IFA livestock committee, said he was "confident". Carlow IFA chair Derek Deane, who led the charge for more information on pay, was also confident.

Former Macra president Joe Healy has secured all the nominations required.

"I've had a good show of support from the north-west of the country but also quite a lot from throughout the other counties," said Mr Healy, who compiles the Ringside column for the Irish Independent's farming section.

IFA rural development chair Flor McCarthy said he had secured a number of nominations.

Poultry chair Nigel Reneghan said the soon-to-be vacated position of deputy president provided new election openings.

Current deputy president Tim O'Leary and North Tipperary chair Tim Cullinan have also been canvassing ahead of tomorrow's deadline.

Irish Independent