Irish Farmers' Association President Eddie Downey has announced that he is stepping back from his role to facilitate a review of remuneration and corporate governance issues at the IFA.

Following a meeting of executive board members tonight, the association has asked its former chief economist Con Lucey to conduct the review and report to the council on the implementation of the recommendations that he made in August 2014 around the issue of remuneration at the IFA.

They have also invited Mr Lucey to make any additional recommendations on corporate governance or any other areas which he considers relevant.

Mr Downey said that he wished to give Mr Lucey and the association the time and the space to thoroughly review the situation and that is why he is stepping back from his role.

In the meantime, Deputy President Tim O'Leary will undertake the functions of the president.

The decision by Mr Downey follows intense criticism of the association throughout the past weekend by farmers throughout the country, who were outraged to learn that former general secretary of the IFA Pat Smith had been paid close to one million euro in remuneration between 2013 and 2014.

Mr O’Leary tonight revealed Mr Downey is paid €147,000 a year for his role leading the association.

He also revealed his remuneration as Deputy President of the IFA to be €35,000 a year.

Mr O’Leary said that these figures are now under review.

He said that the remuneration package of any future IFA general secretary will be disclosed and will be a matter of public record in the annual accounts.

He said that he knows that IFA officers and staff are totally committed to getting on with their job of representing farmers and dealing with the issues of commodities and input prices in all sectors, CAP payments and farm schemes.

In a statement, Mr Downey said that mistakes had been made and that he wants to apologise for that.

He said that steps have now been taken to ensure past mistakes are never repeated.

Mr Lucey, who resigned as chair of the IFA audit committee in 2014 following what he described as the "unacceptable interference" by Pat Smith in the work of the committee, welcomed the review.

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Lucey said that this controversy is a "sensitive issue" and he got a call late this afternoon to conduct the review. 

He said he was happy to be heading the investigation and hopes it will be an effort to get the IFA back to "normality".