IFA council agrees to full elections for key positions before May
The executive council of the embattled Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has agreed to full-blown elections, with farmers asked to go to the polls to select a new president by the end of April.
The farm body was thrown into crisis in recent weeks as farmers around the country were outraged after it emerged former general secretary Pat Smith's pay package was worth almost €1m over two years.
New rules were passed at yesterday's meeting of the executive council at IFA headquarters in Dublin's Bluebell to allow a full set of mid-term elections to take place for all key positions.
As pressure mounted, the executive board - including key positions such as IFA deputy president and the four regional chairmen - had agreed to all positions being put to a mid-term vote by grassroots' members if a rule change could be agreed upon to let them run again in the elections.
The meeting proved a lengthy affair as county executives in Donegal, Waterford and Louth argued against the bid by the executive board to be allowed to go forward for re-election to their positions.
However, under the rule change agreed in principle, key positions such as the deputy president and the four regional chairs will be reduced from a four-year term to two periods of two years. It will be open to any members to run and will see the executive board step aside. They can then stand for re-election.
Now, if they are elected again they will serve out the remaining two-year term.
It will take 28 days for a rule change to come into effect.