IFA's president Eddie Downey steps aside in pay crisis
Farm union to carry out independent review of level of salaries and packages
President of the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) Eddie Downey has stepped back from the country's most powerful farm lobby group, as it moved to review pay packages at the organisation to try to staunch the haemorrhage of members.
Leaders of the farm body have been flooded with angry calls from members threatening to leave the organisation after it emerged the former general secretary Pat Smith received a pay package of almost €1m over just two years.
Mr Downey, who has faced no-confidence motions in the wake of the revelations, apologised to members last night as he confirmed he would "step back" to allow a review of remuneration take place. The IFA confirmed the president was in receipt of €147,000 a year, while the deputy received €35,000.
In a bid to rebuild confidence among members, the IFA has asked its former chief economist Con Lucey to review and implement his recommendations on pay and transparency within the organisation.
"They want me to review the recommendations I have made already and to make any other recommendations in the whole area of transparency," Mr Lucey told the Irish Independent.
"Things happened very quickly - I've only spoken briefly with Bryan Barry, who is the acting general secretary.
"The hope is the past can be put to bed and we can start looking to the future."
Mr Lucey first raised concerns over transparency and accountability within the IFA as he resigned from the audit committee last year. In 2014, he had called for a remuneration committee to be established to review the pay of the two top office holders - the general secretary and the president.