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Independent.ie

Tuesday 13 November 2018

IFA refuse to clarify details of president's €120k salary

IFA President Joe Healy, flanked by General Secretary Damian McDonald and IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy, pictured addressing the 63rd Annual General Meeting of the Irish Farmers Association in Dublin.
IFA President Joe Healy, flanked by General Secretary Damian McDonald and IFA Deputy President Richard Kennedy, pictured addressing the 63rd Annual General Meeting of the Irish Farmers Association in Dublin.
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

THE Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) is facing major questions over its president's salary two years after a row over pay rocked the organisation.

The IFA has refused to clarify whether its president's salary of €120,000 includes directors' fees - or whether Joe Healy is in receipt of another €62,000.

The lack of clarity comes two years after Mr Healy swept to power following the resignation of the previous president and general secretary.

He is legally entitled to receive directors' fees - which this year will add up to around €62,000 for the two board positions he holds.

But the IFA is now refusing to detail whether directors' fees its president has received have made up part of Mr Healy's €120,000 annual salary or are surplus to it.

The IFA refused to give a breakdown of its president's full remuneration package or clarify whether Mr Healy has transferred the directors' fees he has received to date onto the IFA.

The IFA would only confirm that Mr Healy is directly paid directors' fees for the two boards he sits on.

A spokesman for the IFA said arrangements were in place to reconcile the president's external fees with his IFA payment so that his total remuneration is in line with the figure agreed by National Council in November 2016.

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However, it refused to detail how long the arrangements have been in place and whether directors' fees he has received since he became president in April 2016 has since been paid into IFA funds, or whether his salary has been reduced to reflect the additional payments he has received.

IFA accounts for 2016-2017 show that Mr Healy was paid a salary of €111,846 for his first year as the association's president, after he took up the post in late April 2016, just shy of a full year's salary.

However, Mr Healy was also entitled to about 25,000 from FBD in 2017, for his role as a non-executive director after joining in August that year. A full year in FBD fees amounts to €50,000.

He was also entitled to €7,625 in 2016 from Bord Bia and €11,970 for 2017 and 2018 for this role.

The lack of clarity about the directors' fees follows a report by former IFA chief economist Con Lucey which recommended that the president's remuneration would not include directors' fees.

Mr Healy won the IFA presidential election in April 2016 after weeks of debates around the country, where he presented himself as a candidate untainted by the pay controversy that had embroiled the farming organisation over the previous months.

He said in the run-up to the election about the association's accounts that "if members want to see and find out more information they are perfectly entitled to and a process should be in place to do this". He also said there was a need for "greater transparency" in the organisation and the president should not be setting his own salary.

IFA Director's Fees Rules

The payment of the director's fees is despite the fact that the former IFA Chief Economist Con Lucey recommended that the President's remuneration would not include director's fees.

Lucey's report, published in December 2015, commissioned after the Association and ratified by IFA National Council, found that there was no clear ruling on payment from directorships of outside bodies, and said the President's remuneration should not include payments from outside bodies, but that these should be paid into IFA funds.

"Alternatively, if this is not practical, the fees should go to the individual but the payment from IFA should be reduced by the same amount".

On top of his €120,000 salary it was announced when he became President that he also has the use of an Audi A6 and vouched expenses.

Greater Transparency

Healy won the IFA presidential election in April 2016 after weeks of debates around the country where Healy presented himself as a candidate not tainted by the pay controversy that had embroiled the farming organisation over the previous months.

Healy said in the run up to the election about the Association's accounts that "if members want to see and find out more information they are perfectly entitled to and a process should be in place to do this".

He also said that there was a need for "greater transparency" in the organisation and that the President should not be setting his own salary.

"If the farm labour is covered and vouched expenses are covered I would be happy with that".

The Athenry man also promised that under his leadership the credibility of the organisation would be rebuilt.

The Con Lucey report revealed that previous IFA Presidents had been paid for their services - a fact unknown to the vast majority of IFA members. The President's pay in recent years had included a fifth bonus year's pay for the four-year term, with some President's paid as much as €181,250.

It was also revealed that its former General Secretary, Pat Smith, was paid €542,634 in 2013, including a basic salary of €295,000, a €145,194 pension contribution and a €55,000 bonus as well as €35,000 from IFA telecom. In 2014, Smith received €452,484.

Smith resigned from his role in November 2015, amid calls for greater transparency of pay levels in the organisation.

Mr Smith received €1.55m for his severance claim and €350,000 in relation to his defamation claim after the case was settled on the steps of the High Court earlier this year.

Farming Organisations

The ICMSA Presidential expenses arrangement is effectively unchanged since in the transition from the last president to this.

ICMSA President Pat McCormack receives an annual allowance of €50,000 and also receives the €10,937 director fees from Bord Bia. He is also in receipt of an undisclosed amount for his role as Non Executive Director of Ornua.


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