Opinion

The IFA is damaging itself from within over General Secretary pay controversy

The continuing row in the IFA, over the lack of transparency over its General Secretary’s pay, must end.

Its General Secretary, Pat Smith, is responsible for the staff of the IFA but, fundamentally, he works for the IFA’s 85,000 or so farmer members.

There is no doubt that the role of General Secretary of the IFA is not for the faint hearted. It takes drive and determination, time and effort, and it fundamentally means answering to all the members. Keeping those members happy or in line is not an easy feat.

However, it’s a farming organisation, not a country.

For the General Secretary of the IFA to be potentially earning more than the President of the US, is, of course going to raise some serious questions and eyebrows.

But the main issue is not the actual salary – it’s the secrecy surrounding it that has riled ordinary members of the IFA.

I’ve heard numerous times, from numerous people, that finding out the remuneration package of the General Secretary or the President was impossible.

Surely this is not the way to run any organisation. No organisation, especially with such member numbers, should have such secrecy around what its senior personnel are paid.

It’s a member organisation, it owes its members to be open about its operations and that includes its remuneration policies.

Derek Deane is not the first to look for such transparency, but his stance has garnered much attention – not all of it good.

But, the IFA is bigger than anyone person, be that Pat Smith or Derek Deane. It’s a phenomenal entity with years of history and hard work under its belt.

The continued shroud of secrecy in relation to the remuneration of its top brass will do no favours for the organisation in the long run. It’s only damaging the organisation.

We live in a society where transparency is expected and the ordinary members of IFA are right to expect that from their organisation.

We know the equivalent salaries in the Irish National Teachers Organisation, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and SIPTU.

The onus is now on the county chairs of IFA to represent the grassroots members and demand that the salaries those representing them be made known.


 

Should the IFA declare the remuneration package of its General Secretary?

  • Yes - everyone who is a member of the IFA is entitled to know it (89%)
  • No - only the remuneration committee should know (6%)
  • Only the Executive Council should know it (5%)

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