IFA executive board on brink with grassroots in open revolt

Former IFA General Secretary Pat Smith and former IFA President Eddie Downey
Former IFA General Secretary Pat Smith and former IFA President Eddie Downey

Sam Griffin

The executive board of the IFA is on the brink of collapse as county branches around the country call for its members to resign.

At least six county boards have now passed motions of no confidence in the executive board as grassroots members revolt in the wake of the payment controversy.

More county boards are expected to make similar calls as branches hold emergency meetings in the coming days and next week.

Several county chairmen told the Irish Independent last night they see the collapse of the executive board as the "only outcome likely".

The executive board currently is made up of the acting chairman Tim O'Leary and treasurer Jer Bergin as well as the four regional chairmen in addition to some staff members.

West Cork was the first to pass the motion of no confidence, which now goes forward to the IFA executive council who will meet on December 15. Sligo, Roscommon, Donegal, Mayo and Galway have all followed suit in putting forward motions of no confidence - though the motions by Galway and Mayo exclude the regional chairmen.

The motions come after it was revealed that the IFA general secretary Pat Smith received a salary of €535,000 in 2013 and €445,000 last year.

Grassroots members are particularly angry that concerns about remuneration levels at the IFA were raised in a series of letters by Con Lucey, who is now conducting a review of the IFA, were not acted upon.

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Cork West chairman Richard Connell said "huge anger on the ground had led to the county calling for the entire executive board to step down".

"With the pressure now coming, it's hard to see how long the board can survive. In West Cork, it's seen as the longer it stays intact, the more damage is done."

Another chairman said the level of opposition to the board is such that "it would be impossible for the board to stay as it is. If it keeps gathering pace I think there can only be one outcome".

At the weekend, former IFA President John Donnelly also called for those on the executive board to resign and for the election of a new president to be postponed for six months.

In Clare, acting president Tim O'Leary was criticised by Former IFA Munster vice president John Slattery, who said he should have acted on the concerns raised by Con Lucey.

Mr O'Leary rejected the accusations and said an audit committee had been reinstated to deal with the issues raised.

He pledged the IFA would be a better organisation following the controversy.

Irish Independent

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