Leaders must shout STOP

Nov 27, 2015 | IRL Blog

  • 147,000 per year as president of a volunteer non governmental organisation!
    A salary of €295,000, a pension contribution of €150,000, a €60,000 bonus and €30,000 director’s fee total
  • €535,000 for a general secretary signed off by the leader of that non governmental membership organisation!

There is a great danger that the IFA fiasco will have further collateral impact on voluntary, community and charity organisations in terms of public perception.

While Michael Fitzmaurice TD was naive in his statement that “down through the years” in the IFA senior positions in the organisation were effectively unpaid” (http://www.thejournal.ie/ifa-general-secretary-salary-2456214-Nov2015/) it has come as a surprise to realise that the president of the IFA gets 5 times the average farmer’s income to lobby for the poor in the farming sector. While the president of the biggest farming organisation is supported to continue the running of his (and it’s always a ‘his’) farm and provided with expenses very few farmers realised that the president also gets paid.

The feedback from a community meeting that I was at last night is that nobody can be trusted; nobody can represent those of the margins, that the whole sector is a jobs-for-the-boys sector, and that ethical practice is not practised.

In a ‘democratic’ organisation such as the IFA, decisions are made collectively. It is the responsibility of those who are on senior committees to ask questions. It is not enough that the president has ‘stood aside’ http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/ifa-president-steps-aside-in-pay-crisis-34228348.html. The national council of the IFA HAVE to take responsibility and be utterly transparent in making known the exact remuneration and expense package of every officer and senior official. But first they should resign and let new people take over.

While the IFA have roots in late 1950s rural Ireland the organisation has since developed into a muscular lobby organisation advocating for farmers well placed to take advantage of market developments, linked to high level agribusiness, and with vested interests in the agglomeration of smaller holdings and farm enterprise scalability. While the upper levels IFA is a poorly understood corporate business empire, at local level it is the local branch made up of local farmers who fund the organisation through membership fees and levies. The IFA is also the beneficiary of every consumer who consumes products from Irish farms.

Because it is perceived, by most, as a community based organisation the continued drip-drip of unexpected information uncovered through duress about the benefits to elected and unelected officials is shattering trust at community level to such an extent that the really good work that well governed organisations do is being undermined.


Michael Kenny