The chairman of Ireland’s tourism authority has resigned after defying government guidance to avoid all non-essential travel by going on holiday to Italy.
Michael Cawley, Ryanair’s former chief operating officer, handed in his resignation on Saturday after details of his Italian excursion were revealed by the Irish Independent.
Italy is on Ireland’s green list, meaning those returning from the country do not have to restrict their movements. However, Cawley’s trip came as Fáilte Ireland, the country’s tourism authority, launched its “no place like home” marketing drive to encourage people to take domestic breaks, while the government has also called on citizens to avoid non-essential trips abroad.
Cawley told the paper he had “no wish to allow this issue to become a distraction from the important work of Fáilte Ireland in rebuilding the Irish tourism industry”.
He said: “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.”
Tourism minister Catherine Martin said she was disappointed to learn Cawley had been holidaying in Italy.
“I rang Mr Cawley this morning and he has offered his resignation, which I have accepted,” she said. “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.”