IFA executive council to consider new elections

Board to decide on proposal amid calls for resignations after Pat Smith controversy

Former IFA secretary general Pat Smith and former IFA president Eddie Downey in  Dublin. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Former IFA secretary general Pat Smith and former IFA president Eddie Downey in Dublin. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The executive council of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) will consider holding new board elections this year during its meeting on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the council decided to put forward a proposal at the Tuesday meeting to end its current term two years early in order to facilitate a new round of elections.

The existing six-person council is only halfway through its four-year term.

However, members of the organisation are calling for the council’s collective resignation following controversies over the pay and severance packages of former secretary general Pat Smith.

The motion is seen as an olive branch from executives to grassroots members.

The proposal will suggest that the board’s current four-year term be broken into consecutive two-year terms, with elections in between.

The motion could lead to a new round of elections as early as spring of this year, should the 53-member council approve it.

However, the move would require the IFA to jettison its current policy, whereby board members can only serve once.

The council would need to take a period of 28 days to consider the necessary rule change for the elections, which means that the issue will not be decided at Tuesday’s meeting.

If approval is granted, the current board members would need to resign, including regional chairmen James McCarthy, Bert Stewart, Tom Turley and James Murphy; deputy president Tim O’Leary, and acting chairman and treasurer Jer Bergin.

The new board elections would likely coincide with an upcoming election to replace former president Eddie Downey, who resigned in November last.

Grassroots criticism

Grassroots members have focused their criticism on the board’s members following the Smith controversy.

Several branches of the organisation have vowed to hold protests outside the executive council meeting in Dublin on Tuesday, calling for the resignation of the board.

It is thought that at least some of the council members would seek re-election if the proposed rule changes is ratified.

If the change is not ratified, they are expected to continue in their roles for the remaining two years of the current term.