Farm Ireland

Tuesday 20 March 2018

The gloves are off as IFA starts to move on from salaries scandal

IFA deputy president Tim O’Leary with acting general secretary Bryan Barry and former IFA economist Con Lucey at Farm Centre in Dublin.
IFA deputy president Tim O’Leary with acting general secretary Bryan Barry and former IFA economist Con Lucey at Farm Centre in Dublin.
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

The IFA show rumbles on. Finally, the executive committee realised that the writing was on the wall, and have resigned in everything bar name, with the proviso that they will be allowed run again.

But why did it take so long? This was yet another example of the IFA leadership's inability to listen to what grassroots have been seeking for weeks on end.

In addition, ordinary members are still asking questions about the levels of expenses paid to those at the top, looking for more detail on the pre-Pat Smith era, and wondering if their top brass really should be benchmarked against the top civil servants in the country.

These are all issues that were not explored in the report by Con Lucey.

And it seems that the national executive are suffering from a kind of fatigue akin to what those battling with flood waters are experiencing.

Maybe some fresh faces will provide a renewed appetite to tackle the outstanding issues.

There is also the niggling question as to whether the IFA can really represent both full-time commercial farmers and part-timers in marginal areas if their best interests are at loggerheads. The last CAP reform where the organisation campaigned aggressively to minimise the transfer of money west was a case in point.

But IFA headquarters will be loath to ever let the western farmer and the part-timer lapse as members. They make up a significant proportion of that 80,000 membership figure that the lobby group trots out to every politician and media outlet. They also contribute significantly to the €4.7m in annual levies that are collected at marts and factories.

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That's why a strong western candidate would be a good outcome from the Farm Centre's point of view. Of course, they'll be very careful not to be seen to be promoting any candidate in what promises to be the most scrutinised set of IFA elections in memory.

An unprecedented number of candidates look set to slug it out for the presidency. While some of the less well known names are being criticised by the insiders for being so presumptuous that they would consider themselves fit for the top job, I think they should be congratulated for bringing a breath of fresh air to an organisation that badly needed a shake up.

These are the guys that should appeal to disaffected members who are in danger of disengaging with the organisation.

Over the coming 24 hours we will see a shake-out from the original seven nominees as some opt to go for the deputy president's post instead.

But seven posts at the top suddenly up for grabs, expect plenty more names to come out of the woodwork. There will be a lot of rubber burned, arms twisted, and phone-bills racked up between now and election day in March.

Indo Farming