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Calleary and Martin ahead of the 2020 general election. Leah Farrell/
Fianna Fáil

Taoiseach says Dara Calleary 'paid a high price' for Golfgate and suggests 'a way back' for the former minister

Martin was speaking following the completion of a trial in which four men had their charges dismissed.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said Dara Calleary “paid a high price” in resigning from Cabinet in the wake of the Golfgate controversy but has suggested there may be “a way back” for the Mayo TD. 

Martin was speaking following the completion of a trial in which four men accused of organising the August 2020 Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in breach of Covid-19 regulations had their charges dismissed by a judge

Delivering her verdict, Judge Mary Fahy noted that “some very good people lost very good positions” as a result of the event. 

Calleary, who was a witness at the trial, resigned from his position as agriculture minister when his attendance at the event was revealed 18 months ago.  

Speaking today, Martin said that Calleary “understood the importance” of maintaining public trust in Covid-19 regulations and made his decision on that basis. 

“I accept the court decision obviously but there was a broader issue given what we had just at that time asked the Irish people to do in terms of very severe restrictions,” Martin told reporters in Dublin Castle.

When Dara resigned I paid tribute to the decision he took in the sense that, I think Dara understood that sense and the importance of trust between government and the people in respect of Covid-19′s management.

Giving evidence at the trial, Calleary said that he was “very comfortable” during his time at the event that Covid-19 regulations were being adhered to. 

An Taoiseach said today that Calleary allowed a “continuation of trust” between the government and the people and suggested he may be considered for a Cabinet post in the future. 

In many ways what he did it was a very high price for him to have paid, it was very dignified what he did. And in many ways he ensured the continuation of the trust in terms of how we manage Covid-19 as a government that brings in restrictions. There is always, of course the door is always open and there’s always a way back for a person of the calibre of Dara, that’s clear

Calleary also resigned as deputy leader of Fianna Fáil following the controversy but An Taoiseach would not discuss whether he regretted that Calleary was no longer in that position. 

“At the time, and I remember it well, there’d been a lockdown in three counties. We’d asked people to take on  board a lot of restrictions. A lot of people made lot of sacrifices in terms of their own personal lives, not attending funerals of loved ones and so on,” Martin said.

“So I think it was in that context that Dara made those points to me.  And so I think it was in that context.”

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