Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 March 2018

How the leadership saga unfolded

Former IFA president Eddie Downey
Former IFA president Eddie Downey

A look back at the key events in the IFA leadership saga.

August 11, 2014 The IFA's former chief economist, Con Lucey resigns from his role as chairman of the newly formed audit committee in a letter outlining his concerns about the organisation's general secretary, Pat Smith, to the IFA president Eddie Downey.

Thursday, Nov 4, 2015 Carlow chairman Derek Deane tells the national council that he believes that Pat Smith is earning €300,000, excluding pension and car benefits. He calls for vote on revealing the pay details, but his proposal is rejected, with over 20 of the 53-strong members abstaining from the vote, including treasurer Jer Bergin. Only seven voted in favour of the proposal. Deputy president, Tim O'Leary was not present for the meeting, citing a requirement to attend a Teagasc board meeting.

Thursday, Nov 12 IFA president Eddie Downey tells farmers at an IFA function in Limerick that suggestions that Pat Smith's pay was over €400,000 were "uncorroborated, unsubstantiated, and should be ignored".

Wednesday, Nov 18 Derek Deane goes on Drivetime on RTE radio claiming that Pat Smith's salary is actually more than €450,000/yr, a figure he tells Mary Wilson is "totally unacceptable".

Thursday, Nov 19 Eddie Downey signs off on a €2m severance deal with Pat Smith in the Farm Centre, while Pat Smith resigns later that evening.

Friday, Nov 20 An unscheduled meeting of IFA national executive in Portlaoise hears details of Mr Smith's €535,000 pay package in 2013. Mr Downey tells the media afterwards that Pat Smith's pay was "not sustainable and unacceptable. Accordingly, we have dealt with it".

Monday, Nov 23 Executive board meeting in the Farm centre reveals that Eddie Downey's salary was €147,000, and that the president was "stepping back" to give Con Lucey time to resume his role in reviewing pay structures at the top of the lobby group.

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Tuesday, Nov 24 Public realises that Eddie Downey's remuneration is closer to €200,000 when automatic directorships at Bord Bia and FBD are included.

Wednesday, Nov 25 A marathon 17 hour emergency national executive meeting that finally finishes at 4am results in the resignation of Mr Downey following revelations that Pat Smith walked away from IFA with a €2.7m pension pot, along with a €2m golden handshake. IFA state that they will challenge Mr Smith's severance package in the courts.

Thursday, Nov 26 Mr Smith demands that €1m of his severance pay is paid to charities before Christmas.

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