IFA whistleblower makes late attempt to re-enter election race

Carlow chairman Derek Deane launches appeal after intially failing to get required backing

Derek Deane: Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The whistleblower at the centre of the pay controversy within the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has made a last-minute bid to contest the association’s presidential elections.

IFA Carlow chairman Derek Deane failed by one nomination to get the required backing of six county executives prior to Wednesday's deadline, effectively ruling him out of the race.

However, Mr Deane, who led the campaign for greater transparency on pay within the association, is claiming he received the verbal backing of a sixth county chairman late on Wednesday evening.

He has appealed to the IFA's returning officer Jer Bergin to be allowed enter the race, though the IFA is understood to be furious about his attempts, claiming that the nomination rules were clear.


"I have a recording on my phone at 5.15pm on Wednesday evening from Brian Treanor, the Monaghan chairman, which says he has no problem supporting me if Tim O'Leary [the IFA's deputy president] is out of the race, which was the case," Mr Deane told The Irish Times.

He also claims that IFA headquarters was in contact with Mr Treanor close to the deadline, but an email from Mr Treanor failed to get through because of a technology failure.

Copy of voice message

Mr Deane said he has left a copy of Mr Treanor’s voice message with IFA authorities and would be seeking a special meeting of the organisation’s 53-member executive council to consider the matter.

“I’m sure there is no council member who would keep me out of the race based on a technology failure,” he said.

The IFA has declined to comment.

The election, which will be held in April, was prompted by the departure of IFA president Eddie Downey, who resigned last year after a signing off on a controversial €2 million severance package for general secretary Pat Smith.

Under the rules, candidates must have the support of their own county executive and five others. Mr Deane and Mr O’Leary both fell one nomination short of the required number, despite being considered by many as the frontrunners in the election.

By Wednesday's deadline, only three candidates had made the cut. 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.

Several senior sources contacted by The Irish Times yesterday said they believed Mr Deane was deliberately kept out of the race by a process of "horse-trading"in the run-up the nominations deadline. They also expressed disappointment that grassroot members were not being given the chance to vote on Mr Deane's suitability for the top job.

Mr Deane also ran for president of the IFA in 2009, having served as deputy president previous to that. However, he was beaten by Kilkenny’s John Bryan, who served until Mr Downey took over in late 2013.

Governance structures

A number of changes to the group’s governance structures were agreed at an executive council meeting earlier this week, including a reduction of the terms of office of its top brass from four years to two.

The salary to be paid to the next president will also be decided by the organisation’s remuneration committee.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times