Earlier this week Carlow IFA chairman, Derek Deane, went public over concerns regarding the remuneration of the IFA's General Secretary. He told RTE's Drivetime radio programme that Smith's salary was higher than €450,000, which Deane deemed “unacceptable”.

IFA president Eddie Downey said the resignation of Pat Smith as general secretary/chief executive was very regrettable and a great loss to the association and Irish farmers.

"In his various roles, he has developed the IFA into one of the most effective and professional representative organisations in the country," said Downey. "As general secretary, he has provided wise counsel to the leadership as they dealt with many difficult issues, from a divisive CAP reform to securing nearly 50% co-financing for the Rural Development Programme and tax measures in the last number of budgets. His capacity to develop trusted relationships with political and industry leaders and his negotiating and organisational ability has always delivered the best outcome for our members."

Pat Smith has worked in the IFA for over 25 years.

“The IFA is bigger than any one person. I have decided to put the best interests of the association to the fore," said Smith. "It has been a great honour and privilege to work with IFA for the past 25 years. I want to wish IFA and the voluntary officers well and I would like to thank the dedicated staff for their loyalty and commitment during my time in IFA.”

Assistant general secretary Bryan Barry is to take over the role of acting general secretary in the interim period and the Irish Farmers Journal understands that the position is unlikely to be filled until after the IFA's AGM in January 2016.

An executive council meeting will take place tomorrow, Friday 20 November, in the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise at 2pm.

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