IFA to pay €1.9m to Pat Smith in settlement of two separate legal actions
Former boss of farmers’ body had taken defamation action and sued over severance
Former IFA general secretary Pat Smith Photograph: RollingNews.ie
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has agreed to pay its former general secretary Pat Smith nearly €2 million to settle a legal dispute over Mr Smith’s severance package and a separate defamation action.
Mr Smith left his post as IFA general secretary in November 2015, amid speculation around his salary, which was later revealed to be in excess of €500,000 per annum.
The outcry over Mr Smith’s salary and his exit package, which was withheld by the organisation, precipitated a major crisis within the IFA, which eventually forced president Eddie Downey to resign.
Mr Smith later brought two legal actions against the association, including one seeking orders requiring it to pay him a €2 million severance package, and one claiming he was defamed by the IFA in statements to the media in the wake of his departure.
In the High Court today, lawyers for the IFA confirmed that both sets of legal actions had been settled without disclosing the financial element.
However, the IFA later confirmed it had agreed to pay Mr Smith €1.55 million in respect of the action for breach of contract and €350,000 in respect of the separate defamation case.
The organisation will also pay Mr Smith’s legal costs, which are expected to be substantial.
In a statement read to the court, the IFA said it accepts Mr Smith was a highly effective, hardworking and dedicated executive of the association who provided solid and professional leadership for farmers and the association.
“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,” it said.
In a separate statement, Mr Smith, who did not appear in court, 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 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.
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.