IFA under pressure over report general secretary paid €400,000

Farmers’ group stands firm in face of calls for greater transparency from members

IFA general secretary Pat Smith (left) with the organisation’s president Eddie Downey. The IFA voted against releasing details of Mr Smith’s pay earlier this month. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

IFA general secretary Pat Smith (left) with the organisation’s president Eddie Downey. The IFA voted against releasing details of Mr Smith’s pay earlier this month. Photograph; Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has come under renewed pressure to reveal the salaries of its top brass, amid reports its general secretary, Pat Smith, receives an annual pay package worth €400,000, more than Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The organisation’s executive council voted against releasing details of Mr Smith’s pay earlier this month despite calls for greater transparency from members. However, as a compromise, it agreed to reform its remuneration committee.

The farm lobby group has more than 88,000 members and is funded through members’ fees, factory levies and business interests, including insurer FBD. Mr Smith took up the position in 2009. His predecessor, Michael Berkery, now chairman of FBD, served in the post for 25 years.

Fianna Fáil agriculture spokesman Éamon Ó Cuív said he found it “extraordinary” an organisation with such a large and broad-based membership was unwilling to reveal the salaries of its senior people.

“If the figure being touted around is true, then members, who are paying the salary, have a right to know,” he told The Irish Times.

Mr Ó Cuív said it may be necessary to introduce legislation forcing charities and voluntary organisations to reveal salaries above a certain scale.

The IFA responded by saying politicians, more than any other group, should respect “the democratic decisions taken and procedures adopted by a representative organisation” such as those made by the governing body of IFA.

“A motion to publish the general secretary’s pay was strongly rejected by council, which carefully considered the case put forward,” IFA president Eddie Downey said.

The campaign for greater transparency within the IFA is being spearheaded by Carlow IFA county chairman and executive council member Derek Deane.