IFA stonewalled as pay controversy rumbled on

Former secretary general of the IFA Pat Smith
Former secretary general of the IFA Pat Smith

Louise Hogan and Darragh McCullough

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) has stonewalled over the issue of pay for senior level staff for over a year.

This pay controversy has been rumbling on since August 2014, when the Irish Independent reported on the concerns of farmers after the exit of the well-respected former chief economist, Con Lucey, from the audit committee.

Despite Mr Lucey highlighting alleged "interference" by then general secretary Pat Smith, and a lack of accountability in setting the remuneration level for the two most senior officeholders, the IFA refused repeated queries from the Irish Independent to furnish details of the secretary general's pay and benefits package, and also the level of compensation paid to the IFA president annually.

In September 2014, the IFA told the Irish Independent: "The association confirms that its financial procedures are robust and that the day-to-day affairs are carefully managed by the financial controller, with final sign-off on all expenditures by the elected national treasurer.

"The association's financial affairs are independently audited by Deloitte each year."


In addition, the IFA stated: "The IFA president, Eddie Downey, said that he has carefully looked into this matter and that the general secretary's [Pat Smith's] request to defer a meeting of the new audit committee was solely for procedural reasons.

"The general secretary accepts that a lack of direct communications between Con Lucey and himself did lead to misunderstandings which were unhelpful."

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The IFA statement went on to point out that Mr Smith, along with the former president, John Bryan, and national treasurer, JJ Kavanagh, was instrumental in setting up this new audit committee last year.

Earlier this summer, the IFA once again refused to reveal details after being asked for the pay of the executive board.

However, it stated the remuneration committee was charged with reviewing the terms and salary of the general secretary.

Yet this committee was only approved to sit by the national council in recent weeks.

"IFA salary information is not published," it stated.

Earlier this month the IFA once again stonewalled on the pay controversy.

It replied the IFA was an "extremely well-run organisation with very robust management structures and voluntary oversight of all expenditures".

It once again refused, in the face of mounting pressure, to answer a specific question on whether Mr Smith received part of his pay package from IFA Telecom. Just days later, the IFA confirmed he earned close to €1m in two years, - including a €60,000 bonus and €30,000 from IFA Telecom.

Irish Independent

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