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Calleary comeback on the cards?


DECISION TO MAKE An Taoiseach Michéal Martin has not ruled out Dara Calleary returning to the cabinet as a Minister.

Anton McNulty

THE acquittal of four people charged in relation to the ‘Golfgate’ dinner in Clifden has led to calls for Dara Calleary to be given a ministerial position when one becomes available.
Ballina-based TD Dara Calleary stepped down from his position as Minister for Agriculture in August 2020 after it emerged he was one of  81 guests who attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden, Co Galway.
The dinner caused outrage among the public as it happened when restrictions on indoor gatherings were in place and it was attended by a number of current and past members of the Oireachtas.
Last Thursday, four persons, Independent TD, Noel Grealish; former Senator Donie Cassidy and two Clifden hoteliers, John and James Sweeney, had charges against them for organising the event dismissed by Judge Mary Fahy.
Following the court case, Taoiseach Micheál Martin accepted that Deputy Calleary had paid a high price for what he did and the door was always open for him to return to Cabinet.
“Of course the door is always open and there’s always a way back for a person of the calibre of Dara Calleary. That’s clear,” he said.
The Taoiseach also said that Deputy Calleary was dignified in his decision to resign at a time when people had made a lot of sacrifices in their personal lives.
“In many ways what he did I think was a very high price for him to pay. He was very dignified in what he did and in many ways he ensured the continuation of that trust in terms of the issues around how we manage Covid-19 as a Government brings in restrictions,” he said.
Deputy Calleary has not spoken on the subject since the court case completed and The Mayo News was unable to contact him yesterday afternoon. However, veteran Fianna Fáil councillor Al McDonnell has called on Deputy Calleary to be reinstated into the cabinet as he felt he was unjustly penalised.

Significant loss
“In the hearts of many people these innocent people were deemed to be guilty and all on the basis of misinformation and false information. The judge said very good people lost positions as a consequence of what happened. In Mayo we were very well served by ministers in the past and there is nobody better qualified than Deputy Calleary to fulfil that role. It was a significant loss to Co Mayo.
“The onus is on the Taoiseach now at the first available opportunity to ensure Deputy Calleary is reinstated in his rightful position as soon as possible. The people of Mayo will celebrate that fact when it happens,” he told Mid West Radio.
During the trial of the four men, Deputy Calleary was called as a witness where he told the court that he was satisfied all Covid guidelines had been observed during the function and throughout the hotel.
Deputy Calleary did not play golf in the afternoon but was asked to speak at the society’s 50th anniversary dinner to mark the contribution of one of its founding members, the late Galway TD, Mark Killilea, had made to public life.
He said the he had spoke to Donie Cassidy on a number of occasions and was assured that the event would be fully Covid compliant.