Eddie Downey: I feel responsible for the fact we are now going forward with a new IFA

The former President of the IFA Eddie Downey has said that he feels responsible the IFA is going forward with as a new organisation.

Speaking to Damien O’Reilly on RTE’s Countrywide at the IFA count on Tuesday, he said that it was gut wrenching experience.

“It’s a huge difference from two years ago when we were all excited about electing a new President (Downey, himself). Obviously it’s gut wrenching to be in this position, we shouldn’t be here.”

When asked why he was at the count this week, he said: “I’m the elected President of IFA. I was elected here by a huge majority two years go. I am here to congratulate the new team and I have no difficulty being here.

“I resigned simply because I did not have the support of my officers. For that reason I’m back, because I did not lose the support of the people.”

Downey said that the new President, Joe Healy, can be assured of his full support as can the Deputy President and the new team in IFA.

“I will back this team. We will not allow a position where people can undermine the Council of IFA and National Officers of IFA or the President of IFA.”

He said he regretted his resignation, but would resign again if the clock was turned back. “I regretted resigning as I did. I knew I had to do it, because unless I resigned this would have been battered around the place, from mart to mart. We need to stop that and by me resigning I felt it would stop it and I think more should have taken the same lead.”

Downey said he did not play any part in damaging the reputation of the IFA. “I established an audit committee and remuneration committee – I was doing the business. I had the lowest salary, even though people get very excited about it. I run a very commercial business at home and I got nothing out of this, and I didn’t want anything out of it. I wasn’t interested in money.

“I feel responsible for the fact we are now going forward with a new IFA.”

Downey said he is busy farming at the moment and is very happy to be at home farming. He said his resignation cost him in a lot of ways, but said he was very proud of his time as President.

He said he changed the land tenure system and got land leasing established as the means by which young people can get hold of land. “That’s huge, that’s a legacy and one I’m very proud of.”

In relation to remuneration of the President, Downey said the President of IFA should be absolutely assured that his farm should be safe and intact. “I wanted the staff paid for on my farm and that is what I was trying to implement.”

He also said that he lost money during his time as President, as he was employing two people to replace him on his farm.

The set up of the President’s pay, he said, was wrong but he was trying to change it and was not given the time to do so.

While Downey is still a member of IFA, he said there was no position for him in IFA, after reaching the top of the organisation.