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Irish agriculture minister resigns after attending golf event

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Dara Calleary (Brian Lawless/PA)

Irish Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary has resigned after attending an indoor golf society event with 80 other people.

A number of other politicians also attended the event, including Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer and Independent TD Noel Grealish.

Other guests included EU Commissioner Phil Hogan and former attorney general Seamus Woulfe.

The Oireachtas Golf Society event was held at the Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway.

Current guidelines state that no more than 50 people should gather indoors.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said in a statement: “This morning Deputy Dara Calleary tendered his resignation as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, following his attendance at the Oireachtas golf dinner on Wednesday evening.

“His attendance at this event was wrong and an error of judgment on his part. I have accepted his resignation.

“People all over the country have made very difficult, personal sacrifices in their family lives and in their businesses to comply with Covid regulations.

“This event should not have gone ahead in the manner it did given the Government decision of last Tuesday.

“Dara Calleary, since he was first elected to Dail Eireann, has been, and remains, a committed and dedicated public representative.

“This error of judgment was out of character. He has made the right decision for the country, particularly in the light of our continued efforts to suppress Covid-19.”

We are all being asked to play our part as we journey through Covid-19 so it absolutely should not have happened
Education Minister Norma Foley

Mr Calleary cancelled a number of media appearances he was due to make on Friday morning before his resignation was confirmed.

He quits the Cabinet just five weeks after being appointed to the role following the sacking of Barry Cowen.

Mr Cowen was sacked after he refused to provide further public statements on his 2016 drink-driving offence.

Education Minister Norma Foley said Mr Calleary’s decision to attend the event was a “very serious error of judgment”.

“I understand the anger and frustration and indeed the disappointment,” she added.

“We are all being asked to play our part as we journey through Covid-19 so it absolutely should not have happened.

“But equally so, I want to say that Dara has made a fulsome apology, his remorse is absolutely genuine, and he has put up both hands now and he has resigned, and I think that is a measure of the man that he has done that.”

Mr Calleary apologised in a statement issued on Thursday night.

He said: “Last night I attended a function I committed to a number of weeks ago, to pay tribute to a person I respected and admired greatly.

“In light of the updated public health guidance this week I should not have attended the event. I wish to apologise unreservedly to everyone.

“We are asking quite a lot from everyone at this difficult time.

“I also offer this apology and my sincere regret to my Government colleagues.”

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