IFA pay scandal plants seeds of doubt

Irish farmers lose the faith

There will be no-one cheerfully humming Richie Kavanagh’s favourite hits as the IFA Executive Council meets tonight to decide on the fate of their president and perhaps one or two others.  It’s all about IFA pay. The men look haggard. The men want blood and the men who sent them will settle for nothing less. Nobody will be cowed after this. The herd mentality is finished.

Politicians of every stripe are inwardly high-fiveing as the Irish Farmers’ Association eviscerates itself in this very public act of self-examination. Senior civil servants nod meaningfully to each other in the corridor and perhaps share a discreet chuckle. Mart managers all over the country look around with narrowed eyes, not yet certain if those eyes can be trusted, but still, the miasma seems to be lifting.

Suddenly, almost without warning, it has dawned on everyone that the king is bollocks naked, the bullishness was mere posturing and the organisation they feared and loathed in equal measure is nothing more than a bottle of smoke. A straw man.

True enough, RTE management are still displaying a craven, grovelling attitude towards the Farmers Journal, as they traditionally do when anyone sends them a lawyer’s letter. But even an organ as magnificent as the Journal, famed for its ability to make or break government ministers and departmental secretaries, must surely be aware that those days are now over for good. The game is up. The spell is lifted, the fingers are clicked and suddenly everyone is back in the room shaking their heads wondering why they’re dressed in Miss Piggy outfits and why the audience is laughing at them.

Just as the Catholic Church once believed it was bigger than the law of the land, so the IFA thought it held some sort of quasi-governmental status even though it is no more than a political lobby group and cartel. It even imposed a tax on every farmer in the country, regardless of whether or not they happened to be members.

But just as the bishops discovered that you only have power when people take you seriously, so now do those at the head of IFA. Without that belief, you’re no more than a scarecrow and just as the people turned their backs on the Catholic bishops, the rank and file farmers have lost the faith, quickly, brutally and irrevocably. There’s no going back once the seeds of doubt are planted.

For all anyone can say, Pat Smith earned every penny of the half million he was paid per year. For all anyone knows, his two subordinates are worth their €200k each. For all I can say, the President Eddie Downey is worth his €190k plus expenses. Who’s to say these people were not worth the combined million euros they received every year?

But none of that matters now.

The only thing that matters is that the farmers don’t think so.

There’s a ripple effect with these things, as we saw with the Central Remedial Clinic and Rehab uproar which caused a collapse in the receipts of all charities, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see demands for disclosure in other comparable organisations even if it turns out that there is nothing to be concerned about. After all, the entire payroll of the ICMSA — eleven staff including the secretary general — would barely cover what Pat Smith got.

What are the likely consequences of this debacle?

From the public point of view, they’re all good.

It turns out there was more than a grain of truth in the rumours and therefore this is the end of IFA lobbyists milking every story for sympathy. The well has run dry. They’ve ploughed that lonely furrow for too long. They sowed the wind and now they reap the whirlwind.

From now on, the IFA will have transparency thrust upon it whether it likes it or not. There will be no more deals done in corners of hotel bars, no more less-than-subtle pressure on government ministers and no more anxiety among senior civil servants that their careers might somehow suffer if they happen to anger the IFA.

In other words, we get more democracy with the decline of yet another organisation falsely believing that it is an arm of state and not simply a glorified trade association.

So what if we’ve all lost faith in the cosy clubs that made up the new Ireland of the 20th century?






And now, farmers.

Where will it all end?

Who knew daylight could be so destructive?


Unanswered questions



9 thoughts on “IFA pay scandal plants seeds of doubt

  1. Hi Bock.This is a good post but I would like to highlight one error.The people you list such as lawyers,bankers,RC church,Gardai ,bankers etc are still going strong and making money even though they have lost public confidence.Farmers,on the other hand,have left the land in droves over the years and are now very much reduced in number as well as being impoverished.Obviously the top men in the IFA have had a party and helped bring farming into disrepute but the remaining ordinary farmers are accustomed to the very obvious contempt of much of Irish society.

  2. @Mad Dog – how right you are. All those big 150k tractors at the ploughing championship are bought by busdrivers. All the shitty 80k 4×4’s you meet on country roads with trailers of bullocks behind them are actually driven by undercover tv license inspectors. All the gigantic Georgian houses you see from the road and the train are belonging to builders’ labourers. All the green diesel is being used by people with ride-on lawnmowers. All the single farm payments go to one-legged blind dyslexic grannies living on Tory island.
    Impoverished, my arse.

  3. The best argument against the “poor oul’ farmers” idea is the extremely high cost of land and the low rate of sale – if farming was unprofitable land would be cheap.

  4. Utterly sickening what this individual and his cronies were and are are getting paid.
    Total in-depth review of how these rates of payment are being ok’d and sanctioned and by whom. Transparency and accountability is what we were promised by our Government. Still waiting !

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.