Farm Ireland

Sunday 25 February 2018

More than 16 months of turmoil and wrangling over pay packets of senior executives leaves top farmers' organisation in a state of crisis

Pat Smith
Pat Smith
Former IFA President Eddie Downey
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

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 IFA president Eddie Downey.

Thursday, Nov 4, 2015: Carlow chairman Derek Deane tells the national council he believes that Pat Smith is earning €300,000, excluding pension and car benefits. He calls for vote on revealing the pay details. The proposal is rejected.

Thursday, Nov 12: IFA president Eddie Downey says suggestions that Pat Smith's pay was more than €400,000 were "uncorroborated, unsubstantiated, and should be ignored".

Wednesday, Nov 18: Derek Deane goes on RTE radio claiming that Pat Smith's salary is actually more than €450,000 a year.

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 meeting of IFA national executive hears details of Mr Smith's €535,000 pay package in 2013. Mr Downey says the package 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.

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

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Wednesday, Nov 25: A marathon 17-hour emergency national executive meeting 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 states that it 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.

Friday, Dec 11: Pat Smith lodges proceedings against the IFA over its claims that it would not pay his severence package

Tuesday, Dec 15: Con Lucey's review shows that IFA presidents were paid up to €175,000 as a golden handshake at the end of their four-year terms. The IFA national executive meets at Farm Centre HQ to decide on the extent of the change required to end the crisis at the organisation.

Irish Independent