Con Lucey reveals IFA's runaway remuneration and faulty structures

Wages for the IFA General Secretary and President should be set by the Deputy President, National Treasurer, a Regional Chairman, and an external expert with specialist knowledge of pay levels, said the Association’s former chief economist, Con Lucey this week, in his much anticipated report on the organisation’ remuneration and governance.
Con Lucey reveals IFA's runaway remuneration and faulty structures

He revealed that former Glanbia Chief Executive John Moloney — appointed last July as the remuneration committee’s external expert — has since resigned.

IFA General Secretary Pat Smith resigned last month after his nearly €1 million, two-year salary package was revealed. IFA President Eddie Downey then resigned after it emerged he had agreed a €2m severance package for Mr Smith.

But the Lucey report now reveals that pay, pensions, bonuses, and other fees totalled €3,445,884 in Mr Smith’s time in the job since 2009.

Mr Lucey confirmed that Mr Downey’s remuneration package totalled €156,000 per year, but his predecessors earned more — with Padraig Walshe earning €181,400 in 2009, his final year as president.

In his report to IFA’s Executive Council on Tuesday, Mr Lucey questioned the justification for Mr Smith’s generous pension arrangements, fees of up to €35,000 per year from IFA Telecom, and bonuses equivalent to 30% of his salary.

He said salary levels of IFA executive staff are broadly in line with those of the grades in the Civil Service with whom they interact.

A view within IFA of centralisation of power and erosion of regard for IFA decision-making structures and procedures was reported by Mr Lucey, himself an IFA staffer for more than 35 years, but who resigned as chairman of its audit committee in 2014.

He made wide-ranging recommendations on governance and structures in IFA, including the Executive Council (whose role is to assist the President) delegating some powers to the Executive Board (the most senior elected officers).

Mr Lucey said the Executive Board’s lack of authority and real power was clear in the 2014 beef price dispute with processors, when its call for further protests was not pursued by the then President and General Secretary.

Other recommendations included induction and training for new Executive Council members; and restoration of a National Committees as a key IFA policy making structure to bring proposals from members at branch and county level.

Restoraton of a National Executive Committee, removed by the Dowling Review in 2005, was also recommended, for co-ordination of policy.

Mr Lucey called for creation of a new post of Secretary, with a high degree of independence from the General Secretary/Chief Executive.

He also suggested a one-year probationary period for new General Secretary/Chief Executives.

Up to now, the 34-page IFA Constitution and Rules had no specific section dealing with the General Secretary.

“There were not adequate checks and balances in the system to provide the President or Executive Council with a counter-view to that of the General Secretary,” said Mr Lucey.

He also called for IFA’s full annual financial accounts to be made available on the IFA website.

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