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Saturday 3 December 2016

IFA grassroots demand more resignations

Eddie Downey faces no confidence motion as local branches push for full disclosure on payments to former boss Pat Smith

Darragh McCullough and Louise Hogan

Published 25/11/2015 | 02:30

Former IFA General Secretary Pat Smith and IFA President Eddie Downey pictured at the recent IFA EGM on the beef crisis.
Former IFA General Secretary Pat Smith and IFA President Eddie Downey pictured at the recent IFA EGM on the beef crisis.

IFA president Eddie Downey is fighting for his position this week as grassroots members demand more answers on the massive pay package that was paid to former general secretary Pat Smith.

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No confidence motions in Mr Downey have already been passed at local level and county chairmen around the country have been flooded with angry calls from members threatening to pull their membership and levies in response to last week's revelations about Mr Smith's salary and perks.

Mr Smith, who resigned last Thursday, received almost €1m in pay, pensions and bonuses, along with a luxury Audi car, over a two year period when many farmers were struggling with the 2013 fodder crisis.

IFA president Eddie Downey claimed he was "shocked" by the salary, pension and bonus package for Mr Smith in 2013, despite the pay details being available for annual review by him and the IFA treasurer.

Kildare county chair, Pat Farrell, described those that allowed Mr Smith's contract as "fools".

"I've no doubt that membership will lose out, levies will drop and it will take a long time to rebuild," he said.

It also emerged this week that the IFA's secretary general was earning more than the entire executive of the next biggest farm organisation, the ICMSA.

Figures for 2014 show that the 11 ICMSA staff were paid €527,474 in salaries and pensions. The organisation has 15,000 members.

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