Former tourism board member who resigned in wake of Spain trip reinstated to another public role 

Former tourism board member who resigned in wake of Spain trip reinstated to another public role 

Breege O'Donoghue resigned from her role on the board of Fáilte Ireland in August after it emerged she travelled to Marbella in July and August.Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

A former board member of Failté Ireland who resigned after a trip to Spain has been reinstated to another public role by the Tánaiste.

Breege O'Donoghue, the former Penneys chief executive, resigned from her role on the board of Fáilte Ireland in August after it emerged in the Irish Examiner that Ms O'Donoghue had travelled to Marbella in July and August.

Ms O'Donoghue neglected to disclose details of any foreign travel to the chief executive of the tourism board.

Staff at the Design & Crafts Council Ireland (DCCI), the national agency for the commercial development of Irish designers and makers, were told at the time that Ms O'Donoghue had tendered her resignation from her role as Chair in their organisation around the same time as leaving Failte Ireland.

However, the Irish Examiner can reveal Ms O'Donoghue has been reinstated to the role after writing to the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

A spokesperson from the Department of Business who oversees the Design & Crafts Council Ireland, said: "Ms O’Donoghue has clarified in writing that her trip abroad was for medical reasons and that she restricted her movements upon her return to Ireland.

"The Tánaiste has accepted her explanation."

It is understood that Ms O'Donoghue did not offer the same reasoning for her travel when resigning from Failte Ireland, and informed Failté Ireland of more than one trip to Spain.

Ms O’Donoghue was pictured with the Tánaiste on July 29 for a campaign to support local retailers.

Asked if he was aware that she had been abroad prior to their meeting, Mr Varadkar said: "It's a fair question, but the answer is no. I meet a lot of people every day and I haven't yet got into the practice of asking them whether they've been abroad or whether they have quarantined."

A spokesman from the Department of Tourism confirmed that Ms O'Donoghue did not make similar representations to the Minister Catherine Martin and any explanation of medical reasons did not arise as Ms O’Donoghue offered her resignation.

A spokesperson added: “On the 8th of September the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht, Catherine Martin T.D., accepted the resignation of Breege O’Donoghue from the Board of Fáilte Ireland. This followed reports that Ms O’Donoghue undertook non-essential travel to Spain.”

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