Donegal IFA has agreed to bring a motion of no confidence in the IFA remuneration committee to next week’s IFA national council meeting.
The motion was proposed by Ballyshannon branch chair Andrew McShea and seconded by fellow Donegal farmer Pat Gillespie at a Donegal IFA meeting held on Wednesday night.
The remuneration committee reviewed and proposed increases to the salaries of the association’s leadership.
A second motion was also voted through on the night, which asks IFA national council to review and revisit the leadership salary increases, in a similar way to motions already put forward by north Cork, Kerry, Meath and Waterford IFA.
The second motion was proposed following the reading out of a letter on the pay increases from the Inishowen IFA branch. The motion seeking the salary increase review was proposed by farmer Robert Carey and seconded by Andrew McShea.
However, speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Donegal IFA chair Brendan McLaughlin said it is unlikely the motions will be processed in time to be on the agenda for the national council’s May meeting, next Tuesday, and suggested instead that it’ll likely be covered in June.
“The motions won’t be heard until the next national council meeting in June,” he said.
McLaughlin said that as county chair he will take the direction given in the motions from Donegal IFA members. He said his members’ concerns over the pay increases “can’t be ignored” and that he will seek for them to be addressed.
The Donegal farmer also said that “no one is perfect” and highlighted that the “IFA are the only ones out there at all times to sort out” the “problems” farmers, most recently those in the pig sector, are facing.
Donegal IFA public relations officer Tom Boyd said: “The view from within the county is that this is a terrible time for [the pay increases] to happen.
“It is terrible PR from the IFA to continue with this and for the leadership to accept the increases. It is a kick in the teeth for members on the ground.”
Boyd said that if at Wednesday’s meeting they needed more farmers to propose either of the two motions, they would have been there. He said “everybody that was there was in favour of them”.
Andrew McShea, who supported both motions, said: “I feel as a [Ballyshannon] representative, if we don’t speak up about what’s going on, we’re failing our members.”
Munster regional chair Harold Kingston, who is a member of the remuneration committee Donegal IFA has voted no confidence in, spoke to the Irish Farmers Journal on Thursday. Other members of the committee include Ulster-north Leinster chair Frank Brady, south Leinster chair Francie Gorman, Connacht chair Pat Murphy, IFA treasurer Martin Stapleton and an independent representative from ifac.
Kingston said that he, and other remuneration committee members, are “part of a process” which is “in place in order to ensure there is transparency” when it comes to the pay of the IFA’s leaders.
“If anybody or any county has a concern, we’ll address it. Any county has the right to put forward those motions.”
He said that during the discussion on or review of the IFA leaders’ rates of pay, it was “purely a case of looking at the equivalent of the secretary general of the Department of Agriculture” and “based on the increases he had had in the meantime”.
“There’s always been a link. That standard was set up in 2016 and it has been linked to that salary,” Kingston said.
He highlighted that there was “nothing about looking for an increase” from any of the IFA leadership.
The Cork dairy farmer warned that, while rising farm input costs may be affecting the sector at the moment, the pay of the IFA’s leaders can’t be linked to that. He said: “If you hire a vet, do you pay them less this year because fertiliser price is difficult?
“There are employment guidelines you work within and you work within that when setting the salary. It needs to be completely separate from farm income costs.”
He said these employment guidelines and detail on the pay market were provided to the remuneration committee by the independent ifac representative on the committee.
Kingston said that while the pay increases were discussed and agreed at the last IFA national council meeting, “obviously there have been more questions since”. He said these questions will be addressed at Tuesday’s meeting.
On the Donegal motions and McLaughlin’s concerns that they won’t be heard until the June national council meeting, Kingston said they should be addressed on Tuesday and not held over.