IFA General Secretary under pressure from local branches

The General Secretary of the IFA, Pat Smith, is coming under pressure from grassroot members of the organisation over its policies and handling of key issues last year.

The recent Laois County AGM saw a number of IFA members express the view that the policies implemented in relation to last year’s beef crisis, the new GLAS scheme and the 2014 malting barley price structure failed in their purpose.

As a consequence, a motion of censure against Pat Smith is expected to be forwarded by the Laois county committee for debate at the IFA’s upcoming National AGM on January 27.

“We are not calling for Pat Smith to resign: rather it’s time he was shown a yellow card,” said an IFA member from Co Laois.

IFA members in other parts of the country have also confirmed that the issue of Mr Smith’s performance in 2014 is expected to arise at upcoming county AGMs

Mr Smith was the guest speaker at this week’s IFA County AGM in Limerick. His presence on the night was specifically requested as a result of concerns in relation to his performance that had been expressed through the county’s branch network.

According to Co. Chairman Aidan Gleeson, the IFA’s General Secretary was asked to explain the background to a number of the key policy decisions taken by the organisation in 2014.

“Mr Smith told members that policy decisions are taken on the back of the information available at any particular time. And while hindsight is a wonderful thing, in retrospect, the reality is that it is not possible to get every decision right all the time,” said Gleeson.

“Mr Smith also committed to redouble his efforts in 2015 in order to get the best possible deal for IFA members across the board.”

The Co Limerick IFA Chairman said that, in his opinion,  it is up to the entire executive staff and the IFA officebearer team to ensure that no stone is left unturned in developing fit-for-purpose polices that reflect the needs of Irish farmers.

“Our members listened extremely carefully to the responses given by Pat Smith on the night,” he said.

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