Fáilte Ireland chairman resigns after Italy holiday reports

Fáilte Ireland chairman resigns after Italy holiday reports
Chairman Michael Cawley pictured left resigned this afternoon. File picture. 

The Chairman of Fáilte Ireland has resigned from his position. 

Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin accepted the resignation of Michael Cawley after a phone call this afternoon. 

Mr Cawley had come under criticism as reports in the Irish Independent revealed he was holidaying abroad in Italy. 

Fáilte Ireland is currently promoting holidaying in Ireland given the government's restrictions on non-essential travel abroad due to Covid-19 and the impact of the pandemic on Ireland's tourism industry. 

In a statement today, Minister Martin said: "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 Fáilte Ireland was holidaying in Italy. I rang Mr Cawley this morning and he has offered his resignation which I have accepted.

The Minister thanked Mr Crawley for his time in the role however said that she believed his position had become untenable. 

"I wish to thank Mr Cawley for his service as Chair of Fáilte Ireland. Mr Cawley has served Fáilte 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."

In a statement this afternoon Mr Cawley said: "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. 

"As I have no wish to allow this issue to become a distraction from the important work of Fáilte 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. 

"It has been a privilege to serve as Chair of Fáilte Ireland and to have contributed to the massive growth which Irish tourism has enjoyed prior to this global pandemic."

Chief Executive Officer of Fáilte Ireland, Paul Kelly thanked Mr Cawley for his contribution to Fáilte Ireland and to the tourism industry. 

"Michael has been an invaluable support to the Executive team at Fáilte Ireland. He has made a significant contribution to developing and growing the tourism sector in Ireland. 

"On behalf of the Executive team and staff I want to express my thanks to Michael and I wish him well in the future," Mr Kelly said. 

This announcement follows calls from the Labour Party and Sinn Féin for Mr Crawley to step down. 

Sinn Féin Tourism Spokesperson Imelda Munster said: "Mr Cawley's poor judgement has made his position untenable." 

Labour Spokesperson on Tourism and Sport Senator Mark Wall said: "I would consider his position to be untenable and call on him to resign."

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