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Irish tourism boss quits over Italy holiday amid pleas for staycations

Michael Cawley, chairman of Failte Ireland, quit after media reports of his holiday.

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The leaning tower of Pisa (Martin Keene/PA)

The leaning tower of Pisa (Martin Keene/PA)

The leaning tower of Pisa (Martin Keene/PA)

The chairman of tourism promotion body Failte Ireland has resigned after holidaying in Italy, despite Government advice for citizens to take a staycation.

Michael Cawley quit within hours of his trip being reported in the media on Saturday.

While Italy is on Ireland’s official green list for safe travel, the Government continues to urge people to holiday within Ireland this summer.

Mr Cawley said he had tendered his resignation to tourism minister Catherine Martin with “great regret”.

“As has been reported in the media this morning, I am on a pre-arranged family holiday in Italy, which is on the Government green list,” he said.

I fully support the Government’s policy on tourism and I will continue to help the industry emerge from its current difficultiesMichael Cawley

“As I have no wish to allow this issue to become a distraction from the important work of Failte Ireland in rebuilding the Irish tourism industry, I have decided after six years in the position to step down.

“I fully support the Government’s policy on tourism and I will continue to help the industry emerge from its current difficulties.”

Ms Martin said she was disappointed to learn of Mr Cawley’s holiday destination.

“Tourism and hospitality have suffered significant losses since the start of this pandemic, with the industry in the three midlands counties of Laois, Kildare and Offaly particularly affected at present,” she said.

“As a sign of solidarity with the industry, and to help the country reopen its schools safely, the Government and my department in particular have encouraged people to holiday in Ireland this year.

“The vast majority of Irish people have heeded that call, and are helping to keep our tourism industry afloat.

I was disappointed to learn that the chair of Failte Ireland was holidaying in ItalyTourism minister Catherine Martin

“While Italy is on the green list, meaning that people who return from there do not have to restrict their movements, the Government has called on people to avoid all non-essential travel.

“Many of our citizens and residents have followed this guidance at some personal and financial cost to themselves.

“I was disappointed to learn that the chair of Failte Ireland was holidaying in Italy.

“I rang Mr Cawley this morning and he has offered his resignation, which I have accepted. I wish to thank Mr Cawley for his service as chair of Failte Ireland.

“Mr Cawley has served Failte Ireland with energy over his time as chair, and I want to thank him for his service to the cause of tourism promotion in Ireland.

“He recognises that solidarity with the industry is extremely important at this time, and I have accepted his resignation this afternoon because I believe his position was untenable.

“I would encourage everyone to support the tourism and hospitality industries in any way they can, and am taking my own holidays in this country.

“Failte Ireland will continue to promote holidaying in Ireland, including a special provision to support the reopening of tourism in the three midlands counties.”

PA