Ex IFA chief’s pay package ‘obscene’ , says leading ICA member

Transparency and ‘clean sweep’ of farmers’ organisation needed, says Mary Melia

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

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

 

Former Irish Farmers’ Association general secretary Pat Smith’s pay and severance package has been described as “obscene” by a prominent Irish Countrywomen’s Association member.

Mary Melia, the ICA’s Dublin federation president, said she could not speak on behalf of the largest women’s association in Ireland, but delivered a sharp rebuke to the IFA.

“I think there’s some serious questions to be asked in that organisation. There’s clearly no transparency. They need to fix that. They need to do a clean sweep,” she said.

“I can’t understand how so much would’ve been paid for so long. When you consider the farmers are levied, that’s very bad. They need to have a very hard look at how they are actually run.”

Ms Melia, who grew up on a rural farm, said trust in the IFA had been damaged by the controversy. “It’s a shocking thing to come to light now. The idea of paying that much money to anyone in any organisation is obscene. It’s ridiculous. You can be good at your job but not be paid that obscene amount of money.

“When you have a lack of checks and balances, human beings are human beings and they do strange things. Nobody was watching the till.

“A lot of farmers aren’t wealthy. They have meagre earnings. They must feel so let down. The farmers trusted them, and that trust is gone.”

The IFA and ICA work closely together and collaborate on issues of common concern, such as rural isolation and farm safety.

The revelation Mr Smith was to receive a €2 million severance package on top of his €2.7 million pension deal led to the resignation of the association’s president Eddie Downey on Wednesday night.

Mr Smith resigned last week in the face of growing outrage among farmers at the scale of his pay package.