Only a rapid return to core values can save the IFA now
Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30
Has the time come for the IFA to go back to the drawing board and start afresh? After the shocking revelations about the running of the association, I fear there may be no other way forward.
In time, people may accept that Pat Smith was an employee of the IFA and - given his ability to negotiate on behalf of farmers - it really should have been little surprise that he was well able to negotiate on his own behalf.
But Eddie Downey was elected by farmers. He was their chosen leader. We all had the sense that the president's remuneration was enough to cover a farm manager in his absence and his out-of-pocket expenses. Other than that, we believed it was an honorary job; his vocation.
Famers also thought they were all together in this, that it was like a big family where everybody was looking out for everybody else.
Down through the decades, when the call came for protests and pickets, countless members downed tools and parked up their tractors because they felt it was their duty to support their great organisation.
The IFA has always trumpeted this voluntary ethos and the strength of its grassrooots.
In reality, it's likely the ethos within the organisation has gradually changed in line with its commercial development, while the simple trust of farmers was taken for granted.
Even in the 21st century, trust is a cornerstone of rural life.