Ex-IFA chief wants half of his severance pay to go to charity

Organisation accuses Pat Smith of spin and says it will fight his claim to €2m package

Former Irish Farmers’ Association general secretary Pat Smith. Photograph: Eric Luke

Former Irish Farmers’ Association general secretary Pat Smith. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

The former IFA general secretary Pat Smith wants half his €2 million severance package, agreed last week before he left the organisation in controversial circumstances, given to charity.

In a statement last night he said he wanted the €1 million lump sum payment given to two charities – Self Help Africa and the St Vincent de Paul – before Christmas.

The severance package, details of which emerged on Wednesday, was to comprise an upfront payment of €1 million, to be followed by 100,000 annually for 10 years.

The executive council of the IFA voted unanimously to oppose paying Mr Smith anything following his departure from the organisation, and the association confirmed it would mount a robust legal challenge to the package.

Mr Smith said he has no intention of “getting into a brawl” with the organisation over the payment and has asked the IFA to “stand good to its deal” and pay the €1 million in equal amounts to the two charities.

Spin

It also said: “He didn’t ‘stand down’. In effect, he was fired.”

It added that the IFA “will fight his severance claim all the way”.

The IFA has been in crisis mode since it emerged Mr Smith’s total package, including pension contributions, amounted to nearly €1 million for 2013 and 2014. A grassroots campaign forced the IFA to publish his salary details, despite a longstanding refusal to do so.

When it emerged IFA president Eddie Downey signed off on Mr Smith’s severance package, Mr Downey was forced to resign.

Separately a letter read to an executive council meeting of the IFA on Wednesday from Mr Smith’s solicitor claimed he was paid less than his predecessor.

Remuneration

In the letter, Mr Smith defended his leadership of the organisation, claiming he was instrumental in securing a better deal for Irish farmers in Europe and establishing its profitable subsidiary, IFA Telecom.

IFA deputy president Tim O’Leary said in an interview on RTÉ’s Six One News that Mr Smith’s severance package cheque “has not been written, and as far as the Irish Farmers’ Association is concerned it won’t be written”.

Separately, it has emerged the IFA last year paid €50,000 for text-messaging services from a firm called CP Publishing, of which Mr Smith is a 33 per cent shareholder.

The resignation of Mr Downey on Wednesday night capped a dramatic sequence of events in the IFA’s ongoing pay controversy.

The association’s rules and privileges committee is due to meet in the coming days to assess the logistics of holding a snap election to replace Mr Downey.