IFA general secretary Pat Smith resigns from role following grassroots pressure to reveal top salaries

Pat Smith (right) pictured outside Leinster House with former IFA president John Bryan.
Pat Smith (right) pictured outside Leinster House with former IFA president John Bryan.
Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

THE general secretary of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has resigned from his role following concerns raised at regional meetings over salaries for top staff.

Pat Smith said he had decided to “put the best interests of the association” to the fore.

Mr Smith had held key roles within the IFA for over 25 years, including dealing with the fraught reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

IFA president Eddie Downey said the decision of Mr Smith to resign as general secretary was very regrettable and a loss to the association and to farmers.

Mr Smith said the IFA is “bigger than any one person”.

“It has been a great honour and privilege to work with IFA for the past 25 years,” he said.

The announcement of Mr Smith’s decision to retire followed a high-level meeting of the IFA executive council.

It comes after a proposal calling for the package of the general secretary to be disclosed to the national executive council was rejected before a heated council meeting.

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The IFA had refused to confirm the salary package of Mr Smith after long-standing and former IFA deputy president Derek Deane claimed before the council that Mr Smith was earning in excess of €400,000 including pension contributions and provision for a car.

Mr Deane said a figure of close to €300,000, plus a pension contribution and car was “being widely mentioned for 2014” for an organisation with a budget of €12m.

There have been calls for transparency on salaries within the organisation at a number of meetings of farmers around the country. It follows the resignation of veteran chief economist Con Lucey from the IFA’s audit committee last year.

West Cork chairman Richard Connell said that people “want answers” on the issue.

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