IFA whistleblower claims he was blocked from entering election race

Derek Deane says potential backers were prevailed upon to withhold their support

The Irish Farmers’ Association officer who exposed the pay issues which led to the resignation of its president and general secretary claims he has been “deliberately” blocked from contesting its presidential election.

The IFA's Carlow chairman, Derek Deane, failed to get the required backing of at least six county executives ahead of Wednesday's deadline for nominations, ruling him out of the race.

However, Mr Deane claimed potential backers were prevailed upon to withhold their support for him.

“A lot of the nominations were deliberately held up so I wouldn’t get to run on the day. They were deliberately held and distributed at the very end,” he told RTE Radio’s News at One programme.


Mr Deane also claimed the IFA’s deputy president Tim O’Leary, who also failed to get the required number of nominations, had blocked him.

“The critical question then for Tim O’Leary is this: did he deliberately shaft me by just sitting on the fence and not informing people he had withdrawn from the race,” he said.

Mr O’Leary, however, later told The Irish Times he never withdrew from the race and was canvasssing for support “right up until the deadline”.

He also said he had asked Mr Deane on Wednesday afternoon to step aside and support his campaign. “There was logic to this because two years ago he had nominated me for deputy president,” Mr O’Leary said.

Mr Deane has appealed to the IFA to be allowed to enter the race on foot of receiving the verbal backing of Monaghan chairman Brian Treanor late on Wednesday evening.

“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.”

Mr Deane claimed an email from Mr Treanor advising the IFA of his support for the Carlow chairman failed to get through because of a technology failure.

As a result, he is seeking a special meeting of the organisation’s executive council to consider the matter. “I am asking on the basis of democracy to be allowed to run,” he said.

The IFA again declined to comment on Mr Deane’s last-ditch efforts to contest the election but is understood to be adamant only three candidates secured the required nominations.

They were: Henry Burns from Laois, who is currently the IFA's livestock chairman; Flor McCarthy from Kerry, the organisation's rural development chief; and Joe Healy from Galway, an IFA farm business representative.

Asked if he had made a decision on possible legal action if he fails in his bid to be allowed to contest the election, Mr Deane said: “Absolutely not”.

The association's returning officer Jer Bergin, meanwhile, announced nominations are now being sought for the positions of IFA deputy president and its four regional chairpersons.

He said the nominations were subject to the executive council adopting a rule change in February to allow the elections, scheduled for April, to go ahead.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times