The National Council of IFA has approved the sanction proposed by the National Rules Committee arising from a complaint made by the Kerry County Chair Kenny Jones.
The complaint related mainly to messages posted in the Kerry IFA messaging groups, and to messages sent directly to Mr. Jones.
It means the Kerry IFA Dairy Committee rep Michael O’Dowd is suspended from holding an officer position within IFA for four years, with the option to appeal after two years.
IFA National Returning Officer Martin Stapleton, who chairs the National Rules Committee, said the process had been thorough, robust and fair.
“This was a matter that had to be independently investigated in full. When an officer or member comes forward to raise allegations of such a serious nature, it requires a thorough process which is fair to the person or persons complained about as well as the complainant,” he said.
Once the process commenced, neither IFA nor the complainant could comment.
“The county chairman showed great courage in coming forward with his complaint. No one should have to endure the messages that were sent to him,” he said.
Martin Stapleton said the Association has a duty of care to voluntary officers who give of their time to represent fellow farmers.
“IFA has always allowed diverse views to be aired through our structures, but it has to be done is a manner that is respectful of everybody involved in the association,” he said.
“Anybody who puts themselves forward for a role in IFA deserves to be treated with respect. We have rules and a Code of Conduct that have to be upheld,” he said.
“We are in an era where people can communicate with each other instantaneously. It is a very effective communication tool when used in the correct manner. However, maybe all of us need to think twice before we press the button,” he said.