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Farmers put pay scandal behind them and elect new IFA president

Joe Healy has said a remuneration committee will decide his salary,

Joe Healy and his family
Joe Healy and his family
Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated 7.20pm

JOE HEALY HAS been elected the new president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA).

The Athenry-based farmer and agricultural journalist was elected on the first count, winning 50% of votes.

The election follows on from controversy surrounding wages late last year.

In November, it was revealed that former general secretary Pat Smith had a pay package worth almost €1 million in 2013 and 2014 combined. It was also revealed that he would be paid a pension in the region of €2 million after he resigned.

Following on from the controversy, former president of the organisation Eddie Downey resigned when it was reported that he had signed off on Smith’s severance package. Downey’s own wage packet was revealed to have been €147,000.

Speaking on Drivetime this evening, Healy said IFA members’ “anger” over the controversy had turned to “disappointment and disillusionment”.

He said a remuneration committee, which he will not sit on, will decide his pay as well as that of the CEO. Healy said he will be happy once his farm labour costs are covered and he receives vouched expenses.

He added that he wants to address the financial pressure most sectors of farming are currently under.

Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney congratulated Healy on his appointment.

“The IFA is an organisation which provides strong representation for farmers across a range of sectors. I have always enjoyed a good working relationship with the IFA and I look forward to continuing this with Joe,” Coveney said.

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There had been three hopefuls for the new presidency, with Healy seeing off competition from IFA livestock chairman Henry Burns and Flor McCarthy to take the position.

This follows on from a month of voting by farmers across the country. Just over 75,000 farmers were eligible to vote.

Meanwhile, Richard Kennedy was elected IFA deputy president and John Coughlan was elected IFA Munster chairman. 

- with reporting by Órla Ryan

Read: Farmers say €40,000 hill walker judgement a “serious concern”

Read: After pay scandal the entire board of the IFA has stood down

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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