Resignation of Con Lucey provokes unease within IFA

IFA president Eddie Downey. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.
IFA president Eddie Downey. Photo: Finbarr O'Rourke.
Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The surprise resignation of Con Lucey as chairman of the IFA's audit committee is provoking growing concern among senior elected members of the association.

Mr Lucey's decision was raised at a national council meeting of the IFA and is set to be a key issue at a meeting of the organisation's executive board today.

In a statement to the Farming Independent the IFA confirmed that Mr Lucey had resigned from the audit committee.

However, an IFA spokesman declined to comment on the reasons for the veteran economist's decision.

Mr Lucey served as chief economist for the IFA for 29 years before retiring in 2009. The Clare native worked for the association for up to 35 years in total.

Highly regarded and respected by both IFA employees and elected members, he was appointed chairman of the IFA's audit committee last year.

It is unclear what prompted his decision to resign but it is believed that concerns regarding the perceived independence of the committee were a factor.

A letter of resignation was sent by Mr Lucey to IFA president Eddie Downey, with copies being forwarded to senior elected members and to IFA general secretary Pat Smith.

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It is believed that a further letter from Mr Lucey outlined a number of recommendations relating to the manner in which the audit committee operates.

The three-man audit committee which was chaired by Mr Lucey also includes the current IFA treasurer Jer Bergin and former treasurer JJ Kavanagh.

It was established last year to provide an oversight function on the financial operations of the association in line with good corporate governance.

Mr Lucey's resignation has provoked considerable unease within the IFA and was raised at the last meeting of the organisation's national council.

It is understood that it will be on the agenda for a meeting of the IFA's powerful executive board which is scheduled to take place today.

An IFA statement said the association's executive board was in the process of selecting a new chairman.

It added that the board was "taking on board Con Lucey's advice including that any new chairman should be an external person with auditing/accounting experience."

"The new audit committee will make its recommendations to the executive board and its work and decisions will be reported to the executive council," the statement said.

"I wish to thank Con Lucey for his help in getting the committee's work agenda established, and I'm glad to confirm that Con will continue to assist the association's president and general secretary on technical issues relating to the current Agri Taxation Review," IFA president Eddie Downey said.

When contacted by the Farming Independent, Con Lucey declined to comment.

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