‘There’s enough blood on the floor’ former IFA president says

Eddie Downey says IFA needs a ‘period of healing’ after salary controversy

Former president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Eddie Downey said resignations from the IFA should stop as there had been “enough blood on the floor” following revelations about the general secretary’s salary.

Former president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Eddie Downey said resignations from the IFA should stop as there had been “enough blood on the floor” following revelations about the general secretary’s salary.

 

Former president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) Eddie Downey has said there should not be any more resignations from the IFA as there had been “enough blood on the floor” following revelations about the general secretary’s salary.

Pat Smith resigned last month after revelations about his salary package of almost €1 million over two years caused outrage among the farming community.

Mr Downey resigned last week after it emerged he had agreed a €2 million severance package with Mr Smith.

Mr Downey tendered his resignation during a 17-hour crisis meeting of the executive council last week and says he was not present at that meeting.

“I got word from the meeting that some of the facts surrounding my involvement with the general secretary’s departure were being misrepresented. The message I got was I was thrown under the bus at the meeting,” he said.

On Tuesday Mr Downey said the executive board had taken all the “right actions”.

“The executive board have taken the right steps here. They’ve done everything that Con Lucey has recommended. Therefore they’ve acted correct and honourably here and I don’t think they should resign,” he said.

Mr Downey told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland he had received advice before going alone into a meeting with Mr Smith that resulted in the controversial severance package.

“Their advice was good, they gave me correct and right advice,” he said.

However, he would not name the people who gave him the advice or say how many people were involved.

“There is enough reputational damage done to people; mine has been shattered, my family have suffered enough pain, I have no intention of inflicting pain on other people,” he said.

“Resignations should stop. I think there’s been enough blood on the floor here. This organisation needs a period of healing and we all need to come together and work on that basis.”

Mr Downey said the last ten months as president of the IFA had been “very fractious and very difficult”.

“I’m very sad and saddened that I’ve come to a stage where I as president, the position I’ve held with great pride to be the fourteenth president of this organisation. It’s very sad for me and my family - my wife, my children, my 91-year-old mother to go through this whole process.”

Mr Downey said his own annual salary of €147,000 with benefits, totalled almost €200,000.

“When you take the tax off you start at €100,000 and I employ two people to manage my farm to replace me when I’m not there,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s the right way to have the salary for the IFA.”