WEST Cork branch delegates of the IFA held an emergency meeting on Tuesday night, demanding the entire IFA board step down.
The members made the call following the recent salary controversies involving the former general secretary Pat Smith and the president Eddie Downey.
At an emergency meeting in the Parkway Hotel in Dunmanway, over 100 delegates voted unanimously for the whole executive board to step down. ‘There was a lot of anger there and I knew from the calls that I was getting all week, what the mood of the meeting would be like. Their main concern is about moving the organisation forward and getting the confidence back in the grassroots,’ Richard Connell, West Cork IFA chairman told the The Southern Star.
Following a discussion that lasted over two hours, reps from across West Cork voiced their concerns about the damage that the controversy was doing to the organisation.
‘A motion was put forward calling for the executive board to step down and they are calling for new elections and a new mandate to help rebuild confidence in the organisation. This was carried unanimously.
‘It’s clear that farmers in West Cork have no confidence in the board,’ he added.
Following Tuesday night’s meeting, Mr Connell attended an IFA national executive meeting in Dublin on Wednesday morning, communicating that decision from his members. ‘You can’t hold these positions if the grassroots have no confidence. My phone has been hopping since Tuesday morning, especially when Eddie Downey stepped aside. I had thought this would have stabilised the situation, but it actually made it worse,’ he said.
There are now concerns about the likely pension entitlements for the former general secretary, Pat Smith, as a pension figure of €2m has been mentioned.
‘The issue of his pension will only increase further annoyance among IFA members and it’s pure speculation at this stage. There hasn’t been any confirmation as yet to what Pat Smith will receive.’
‘There is big disappointment out there among farmers in West Cork, and I feel disappointed myself that there is no transparency and questions are being asked about how this happened in the first place,’ he said.