From a farming family in Kilmainhamwood, Co Meath, GAA enthusiast Pat Smith started his studies at Warrenstown Agricultural College and moved on to UCD, where he obtained an degree in General Agriculture in 1983. He started his career as an agricultural adviser in Scotland, then back in Ireland, and added a diploma in accounting and finance to his qualifications.
He then joined the IFA as executive secretary of the farm business and environment committees in 1989, becoming director of organisation the next year. He was in charge of growing the IFA’s membership base and efficiency for the 19 years he held that post, until his appointment as general secretary in 2009.
He is one of only four people to have held the top staff position at the IFA in the organisation’s 60-year history. Smith succeed Michael Berkery as chief in the IFA. Smith was elected by a panel which included president of the time Padraig Walshe and deputy president Derek Deane. It was Deane who was, arguably, the catalyst of Smith's resignation.
As general secretary, Smith embarked on visits to the US to lobby for the opening of the American market to Irish beef.
He was also at the head of the IFA’s campaigning machine when the organisation called for a Yes vote in the second Lisbon Treaty referendum.
The central years of his term as general secretary focused on the preparation of the 2014 CAP reform which included several large scale national and regional protests.
While he was appointed by IFA president Padraig Walshe, Pat Smith also served under John Bryan and, until this week, Eddie Downey.
Smith resigned on Thursday evening following controversy over his pay and conditions.
IFA general secretary Pat Smith’s resignation: how did we get here?