The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has confirmed that a review is underway following a recent election that was held at its Co. Donegal branch.

The defeated candidate in the Donegal election Peter Lynch, who farms near Newtowncunningham in east Donegal, had called for the election to be declared null and void.

Lynch had alleged that fundamental IFA rules were broken in the run-up to the election.

According to Lynch, the IFA’s national treasurer and returning officer, Martin Stapleton, was made aware of these concerns some days before the election was due to take place.

Lynch made a formal complaint to the IFA in relation to the election on February 13.

In response to this complaint the IFA’s national treasurer and returning officer has now written a letter to Lynch, which Agriland has seen, following a meeting of the IFA rules committee.

Stapleton informed Lynch that his complaint was examined in two separate ways, firstly the conduct of the election on the night and secondly in relation to allegation of staff canvassing.

The letter to Lynch stated that: “It was felt the election was conducted in accordance with IFA custom and practice.

“The practice of a public roll call, combined with voters signing a register, has been deemed historically to be sufficient to ensure the integrity of the process.

“It is important to note that no issues were raised on the night in relation to the running of the election or the validity of any proxies.

“The president was complimentary in his observations of how efficiently the process was conducted, given the number of elections conducted on the night.”

Stapleton also informed Lynch that the IFA rules committee sought a “submission” from its director-general – as “it is firstly an employment issue”.

In the letter he stated to Lynch:

“The director-general informed the meeting that there is currently a review underway as any allegation of staff canvassing, in any election, is a matter to be taken very seriously.

“As there is a potential for serious implications for individuals as a result of this review, the rules committee has asked the director-general to report back on completion of the investigation.”

Lynch has also been informed by Stapleton that “on receipt of this report and following national council having considered the related Donegal motion, the rules committee will consider what issues arise for your complaint and the association in general”.

Lynch, who is a former county vice-chair and has represented Donegal on the IFA’s national grain committee for a number of years, has told Agriland that he accepts “the recommendations of the IFA’s rules committee”.

“However, the review that follows must be thorough and totally independent,” Lynch has stressed.