Friday 21 October 2016

Executive board of Irish Farmers Association to step aside for elections

Published 04/01/2016 | 11:39

Pat Smith. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Pat Smith. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

THE IRISH Farmers’ Association (IFA) is moving into full-blown election mode as the executive board has agreed to step aside pending a rule change.

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Following a meeting last night, the six-man board said it had agreed to facilitate a full round of fresh elections for all the national officer positions.

This would take place at the same time as the IFA presidential election in the spring.

The board will be proposing a rule change at a meeting of its national council tomorrow to allow all the top positions on the board – president, deputy president, four regional chairmen and the national treasurer – to revert to two terms of two-years. It is currently a four year term.

If this approved  then the elections will take place as soon as possible.

The board said they were making this move in the “best interests of the association”.

Farmers from both the Limerick and North Galway regions are expected to be joined by others from around the country tomorrow after they decided to voice their anger over the way the organisation has been run in a protest at the head quarters in Bluebell, Dublin.

The meeting tomorrow will see the 53-members of the national council vote on changes to the current rules which would allow the council decide on when to stage the election by a majority vote.

The farm body has been impacted by the pay controversy that saw former 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.

Mr Downey has stated he had approval, and did not act on his own, when reaching a controversial €2m ‘golden handshake’ as he left the organisation.

Mr Smith has launched a High Court action against the IFA, as the farm body warned it will contest any payout.

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