I'm pleased matters have been settled and I'm very proud of IFA - Pat Smith

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

Margaret Donnelly and Louise Hogan

Commenting on the settlement today in the High Court of litigation brought against the Irish Farmers’ Association, Mr. Pat Smith said that he and his family are pleased that matters with his former employers, the Irish Farmers’ Association, have been settled. 

He said that he is very proud of the organisation he left behind and of his record of delivery, and the many innovations and achievements made during his career with the IFA that will be a lasting positive legacy for the Association and its membership.

Mr. Smith said that as far as he was concerned the matters in dispute were now closed and he looked forward to developing a successful future with his new business in the renewable energy sector.

He said it had been a great honour to work for Irish farmers and the agri industry and he wished farm families and the sector every success for the future.

He also thanked his wife Libby and his extended family and those personal, farming and business friends across the country whose support was highly valued during a turbulent time.

A statement read out in the High Court today by lawyers for the IFA said that both sets of legal proceedings taken by Mr Smith namely, the action for breach of contract in relation to the terms of his departure from the IFA and a separate defamation action relating to statements and comments made subsequent to his departure, have been settled.

It also said "Mr Smith was employed by the Irish Farmers Association for more than 26 years and was Chief Executive for nearly seven years until his employment terminated by agreement in November 2015.

"IFA accepts that Mr Smith was a highly effective, hardworking and dedicated executive of the Association who provided solid and professional leadership for farmers and the Association.

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"IFA accepts that it made certain statements in the media at the time which were defamatory of Mr Smith and regrets the damage caused to his reputation.

"IFA wishes Pat Smith and his family the very best for the future."

IFA has confirmed that Pat Smith is to receive €1.55m in relation to his severance claim and €350,000 in relation to his defamation claim.

Mr Smith resigned from his post as IFA General Secretary in November 2015, amid speculation around his salary and pressure for it to be disclosed.

Mr Smith said his agreement with IFA on his exit centered around a €1m exit package and a further €1m in yearly €100,000 instalments. Smith said the €2m exit package was agreed with the former IFA President Eddie Downey.

Downey later resigned from his position and the IFA Executive Council voted against the package Downey and Smith had agreed upon, with the Association saying at the time that it would explore all legal avenues to challenge any severance package for Smith.

Smith then brought two legal actions against the organisation, including one seeking orders requiring it to pay him €2m via payments of €1m now and a further €1m over the next 10 years. Smith said the November 19, 2015, agreement was valid, effective and enforceable.

In his second case, Mr Smith alleged that he was defamed by the IFA and has issued a claim for damages, including aggravated damages.

However, despite saying it would challenge Smith's legal claims, the IFA today settled both claims with its former General Secretary.

At the time, it was lrevealed that Mr Smith had been paid in excess of €540,000 in 2013, including a base salary of €295,000, a pension contribution of €145,194, and a bonus of €55,000, as well as €35,000 from IFA telecom in report carried out by the Association's former Chief Economist Con Lucey.

The report also revealed that the IFA President is a paid role, a fact previously witheld from membership, with some former presidents receiving in excess of €150,000 a year - including a termination payment equivalent to one year's remuneration on leaving office.

Former President John Bryan received almost €800,000 for his four-year term.

IFA Director General Damian McDonald is paid a salary of €185,000 while IFA President Joe Healy is being paid €120,000 a year.

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