| 10.6°C Dublin

'high price' Taoiseach says door open for both Barry Cowen and Dara Calleary to return

Mr Calleary resigned as Agriculture Minister in August 2020 after it emerged he attended a controversial golf society dinner in Galway when Covid-19 restrictions were in place.

Close

Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary arrives at Dublin Castle for a cabinet meeting.

Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary arrives at Dublin Castle for a cabinet meeting.

Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary arrives at Dublin Castle for a cabinet meeting.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has insisted that the door remains open for both Barry Cowen and Dara Calleary to return to Cabinet.

Speaking in Kerry on Monday, Mr Martin repeated that Mr Calleary had paid "a very high price" for the Golfgate controversy in 2020.

He said after last week's Galway District Court ruling over the Golfgate controversy the door remains open to Mr Calleary making a future return to Government.

Close

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: PA

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: PA

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: PA

Mr Calleary resigned as Agriculture Minister in August 2020 after it emerged he attended a controversial golf society dinner in Galway when Covid-19 restrictions were in place.

All those involved in the dinner insisted they thought the event was in compliance with regulations - and claimed they had done everything they could to verify that the dinner was in full compliance.

Mr Martin insisted that the same position over a potential return to Government also applied to Mr Cowen.

The Offaly TD was sacked by Mr Martin as Agriculture Minister after he had refused to resign over the controversy surrounding a drink driving ban in 2016.

Mr Martin maintained that the Garda file relating to Mr Cowen's road traffic matter had raised issues that required more explanation.

Mr Cowen, at the time in July 2020, said he was "surprised and disappointed" by the move - and insisted he had made every effort to clarify the matter.

However, he was sacked after declining to make a second public statement on the controversy.

Mr Cowen had been in Cabinet for just 17 days.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Mr Martin insisted the door to both Mr Cowen and Mr Calleary returning to Cabinet someday remained open.

"For all politicians of that calibre, that seniority in political life, of course that is the case - but, as I said, I dealt with that last week," he said.

"The situation in a three-party coalition government, there are only so many positions for so many people right now.

"No one wanted what happened to have happened. But of course people engage through the parliament, constructively engage in legislation and policy issues - that has been the history of politics."

The Taoiseach refused to be drawn on why prosecutions weren't taken over other high-profile events that allegedly breached Covid-19 guidelines.

Mr Martin insisted that politics had nothing to do with an independent judiciary and prosecutions service.

"That is a question that should be directed at those who independently run (prosecutions).

"Politics is not involved in the prosecution service - either the DPP or the gardaí. We do not get involved in operational decisions. That is that.

"But suffice to say the issue in respect of all of that...is about the trust that is needed between Government and the people at a moment of great peril, in the middle of a pandemic, a once-in-a-century event where the public want to see and need to see that if the Government introduce regulations that those regulations, the spirit of those regulations, are adhered to by everybody.

"I think Dara Calleary paid a very heavy price - but, by his actions in a dignified way, he confirmed that trust and underpinned that trust between the people and Government.

"I think it reflected well on him as a result of that. That is the essence of it."

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy