Deane sees conspiracy in being shut out of IFA election

Carlow chairman destined not to take part in election despite prompting pay revelations

He who wields the knife never wears the crown, or so it seems for Carlow IFA chairman Derek Deane, the whistleblower at the centre of the pay controversy within the Irish Farmers' Association (IFA).

Deane's one-man crusade for greater transparency toppled a culture of entitlement and secrecy at the heart of the State's most formidable lobby group. It should have given him the perfect platform to contest the association's upcoming presidential election, prompted by the exit of Eddie Downey in November.

Before the race has begun, Deane finds himself out in the cold, amid claims he was thwarted from running by “horse-trading”. He failed by one nomination to get the required backing of six county executives ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, despite having been a considered front-runner.

Whether there was a conspiracy to shut him out of the race or simply a desire to clear the deck for a new team remains open to speculation.


Several sources said Deane is still viewed as a troublemaker and a subversive by some senior figures in the IFA. Getting him out of the race at the nomination stage was paramount, they said, as he commands support among grassroots, who will have the final say under a more democratic voting process.

Deane has launched a last- ditch bid to enter the race, claiming he received the verbal backing of Brian Treanor, the Monaghan chairman, late on Wednesday, which would have got him across the line. Treanor had originally declared for IFA deputy president Tim O'Leary, who also failed to get the required support.

“Brian Treanor had stated on one of my voicemails that he was prepared to support me in the interests of democracy if Tim O’Leary was out of the race,” Deane said. O’Leary has confirmed he did not exit the race prior to the deadline.

Deane has called for a special meeting of the IFA’s 53- member executive council to consider his candidacy “in the interests of democracy”. The IFA is understood to be furious at his 11th-hour bid, claiming the nomination rules are clear.

Deane certainly believes he was the victim of a conspiracy. In an interview on RTÉ radio yesterday he suggested several county executives had held back votes to block him .

The anti-conspiracy theory camp points to the fact that Deane ran unsuccessfully for president in 2009 and claims that despite his work in exposing governance problems he does not bring people with him.

Either way, the argument appears academic with the IFA seemingly determined to proceed with the three declared candidates.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times