It seems the vote of confidence in IFA General Secretary Pat Smith, at its recent AGM, may not quite be the overwhelming show of support some have made it out to be.
Sources within the IFA have said that the vote of confidence in Smith at the Executive Council of the IFA’s recent AGM did not reflect the sentiment of many in the room.
And, in the end it, was IFA President Eddie Downey who came to the rescue of Smith.
“There was ructions over the vote,” a source who was in the room at Wednesday’s AGM said.
A motion was put forward by Laois County on the day citing its dissatisfaction with the General Secretary, it would seem, in the hope and expectation that it would generate debate around the performance of the General Secretary within the organisation and especially during the last year, another source within the IFA said.
“There was, and there remains, discontent among a lot of IFA grassroots members. Pat Smith does a lot of excellent work in IFA but the bottom line is when you’re a paying member of IFA and paying levies to the organisation, you are entitled to air your dissatisfaction if you believe the organisation could have done better in certain areas.”
However, it was the motion of no confidence from four county chairmen, which was presented during the debate that caused a further ruffling of feathers among senior members of the IFA.
This motion was put forward by Derek Deane (Carlow), Pat Hennessy (Laois), Pat Farrell (Kildare) and Tim Cullinan (North Tipperary). However, the legality of the letter and its arrival was questioned before it was deemed ‘ok’.
After a recess, IFA President Eddie Downey announced that he himself was submitting a motion of confidence in Pat Smith.
Our source says that this amendment was voted on first.
Again, there was much to-ing and fro-ing as to the motive of this move but, in the end, it meant the Executive Council voted on the motion ahead of the ‘dissatisfaction’ motion and the letter from the four chairmen.
“People spoke very strongly in favour of the President’s motion and a number of people spoke strongly in favour of Pat Smith, but there was no actual debate,” one source said.
Another source put it: “Eddie Downey said he was ‘fed up’ of others undermining his leadership.”
But, when it came down to the vote, of confidence, in Pat Smith, our sources say there was much surprise and dissatisfaction it would not be a secret ballot.
Those who were counting in the room put the show of hands supporting the motion of confidence in Pat Smith at 27, while five people showed their hands against the motion of confidence. However, our sources say a significant number in the room abstained from the public vote.
The IFA Executive Council has 53 permanent members, although how many were at the AGM on Wednesday is not clear, but based on these numbers up to 21 members may have abstained from the public show of hands.
Another IFA member, who wished to remain anonymous, simply said Pat Smith did not have the confidence of the room. “There was a sizeable number of people unhappy with Pat Smith.”
An official spokesperson for the IFA said it “confirms that the outcome of the Executive Council meeting was that a motion of confidence in Pat Smith, General Secretary, was agreed unanimously”.