Date set for IFA National Council meeting

The Irish Farmers’ Association’s (IFA’s) much-anticipated National Council meeting will take place in Dublin on Wednesday week, March 21.

The meeting – which had to be postponed in recent weeks due to Storm Emma – will take place at a city-centre hotel, rather than at the Irish Farm Centre as previously planned.

It is not yet known whether former IFA president, Eddie Downey, has been offered the opportunity to speak at the meeting – which is open to all members of the council.

A spokesman for the IFA said the association would “not be offering any further comment” on the details of the meeting.

Last month, Downey asked for an invitation to speak, in camera, at the upcoming National Council meeting.

The Slane-based farmer said he wanted the opportunity to “set the record straight” on the timeline, and events, that resulted in his resignation from the association in November 2015.

A source close to Downey previously told AgriLand that the current version of events in the public realm is “completely wrong“.

Downey stepped down from the presidency following the much-publicised IFA pay controversy over the salary of former general secretary of the IFA, Pat Smith – whose severance package had been agreed at circa €2 million at the time (2015).

“Nobody objected to signing the severance package; everybody encouraged it; that’s the story Downey wants to tell,” the source claimed.

After a drawn out legal ordeal over the terms of Smith’s departure package, plus a separate defamation action, a settlement was reached between Smith and the IFA last month.

€1.55 million severance package was agreed and a settlement of €350,000 was reached for the subsequent defamation case.

Speaking at a recent Meath IFA meeting, subsequent to the settlement, Downey said: “I’ve waited long enough to tell the truth about what happened in that room.

Reports at the time said that Eddie Downey acted alone. This is not true. This is defamation. All that I did that day was approved; at every step I sought and received approval.

“Why can I not tell the truth now?,” he asked.

The IFA National Council is the national governing body of the IFA, which brings together county chairmen, committee chairmen and officers under the leadership of IFA president, Joe Healy, who will chair the upcoming meeting.

The council has a hands-on involvement in devising IFA strategy and providing the engine for policy and delivery.