New IFA boss to receive scaled-down salary package

Farmers’ lobby appoints Damian McDonald as its new director general

Incoming IFA president Damian McDonald is to receive a basic salary of €185,350. Photograph: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Incoming IFA president Damian McDonald is to receive a basic salary of €185,350. Photograph: Seb Daly/Sportsfile


The new head of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) is to receive a substantially smaller salary package than his predecessor.

The association today announced the appointment of Damian McDonald, the chief executive of Horse Sport Ireland, as its new director general.

The Wexford man replaces former IFA secretary general Pat Smith, who left the organisation last year amid the controversy over his pay, which equated to €535,000 in 2013.

Mr McDonald will, however, receive a more modest package with a basic salary of €185,350. The IFA said it would also make a contribution towards his pension equal to 15 per cent of his salary, or €27,750.

The scaled-down package is said to reflect pay rates in similar -sized organisations and marks an attempt by the IFA to draw a line under recent controversaries.

The association also released details of its president Joe Healy’s annual salary, which will be €120,000. Mr Healy’s pay included payment from outside bodies, suggesting the full cost would not be borne by members.

Mr Healy’s predecessor Eddie Downey, who was forced to resign when details of Mr Smith’s controversial €2 million severance package surfaced, received €147,000 during his tenure as president.

Mr Smith is still pursuing a legal case against the IFA over his severance deal, which the organisation has withheld.

Mr McDonald (44) takes over at the helm at a time of intense pressure on farmers’ incomes linked to falling commodity prices.

“Being from a farming background, I am very conscious of the responsibilities the position of director general of the IFA brings with it,” he said.

Prior to his current position as head of Horse Sport Ireland, Mr McDonald was chief executive of farmer’s group Macra na Feirme from 2001 to 2007. He has also worked for the IFA as a livestock services manager and represented farmers on various bodies including the National Economic and Social Council.

Mr Healy welcomed the appointment of Mr McDonald, saying he looked forward to working together on behalf of all farmers.

“The income crisis in the sector this year requires strong and committed work by IFA to improve incomes and conditions for farmers,” he added.

Mr McDonald will take up the role with the IFA in the New Year with an exact start date still to be confirmed.

“I am very grateful to the IFA for giving me this opportunity, and to Horse Sport Ireland and Macra na Feirme, for the experience I have gained working in both organisations”, he said.

“I will continue in my role as chief executive of Horse Sport Ireland until I serve out a notice period. My full focus will be on that role until I formally take up the position with the IFA in the New Year,” he said.