Wednesday 28 June 2017

Farm chief quits with pension pot of €2m

Under-fire IFA president Eddie Downey's pay package revealed to be worth €200,000

Former secretary general of the IFA Pat Smith. Photo: Laura Hutton
Former secretary general of the IFA Pat Smith. Photo: Laura Hutton
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

The former general secretary of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) will be walking away from the embattled farm lobby body with a €2m pension pot.

Negotiations are understood to be continuing over any potential 'golden handshake' for Pat Smith after he resigned from his position after 25 years with the organisation last week.

A major review of pay and governance gets under way to try to tackle the fall-out.

Senior IFA officials, including the president Eddie Downey, deputy president Tim O'Leary and treasurer Jer Bergin, have faced calls to step down from the national executive after it emerged Mr Smith earned almost €1m over two years.

It also emerged Mr Downey, who has 'stepped back' from his role as president to allow a review to take place, earned a €147,000 salary from the IFA, with a further €30,000 in directors' fees for 2014 from insurer FBD and €10,970 from Bord Bia. In addition to these earnings of almost €200,000, Mr Downey would have received expenses since taking up his role in January 2014.

IFA deputy president Tim O'Leary, who is now fulfilling the role of president, said they would be bound by the "very strong law" and "confidentiality" governing employees as the negotiations over Mr Smith's exit package continue.

It is understood Mr Downey, Mr Smith and the IFA's solicitors discussed the former general secretary's exit last Thursday but any potential exit package was not finalised.

The IFA national council will meet today as farmers around the country have called for answers and threatened to withdraw membership and levies from the organisation.

However, the Irish Independent can reveal details of how the association stonewalled over the issue of pay for senior level staff for over a year.

Over the past 14 months, the IFA has refused repeated requests from this newspaper to furnish details of the secretary general's package and also the level of compensation paid to the IFA president.

Irish Independent

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