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Updated / Tuesday, 8 Sep 2020 22:27
The Minister for Tourism has sought a meeting with the board of Fáilte Ireland “at the earliest opportunity” after a second member of its board resigned following a trip overseas during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The tourism body has been promoting domestic holidays due to the ongoing restrictions around international travel.
Minister Catherine Martin said she accepted the resignation of Breege O’Donoghue from the board, following confirmation that Ms O’Donoghue travelled to Spain during the summer.
“We are all aware of the devastating impact that Covid-19 restrictions have had on the tourism and hospitality sectors and I am disappointed to learn that a second member of the board of Fáilte Ireland travelled abroad this summer, notwithstanding Government advice,” Minister Martin said in a statement.
“In order to support our own industry, and in line with the prevailing Government health advice, Fáilte Ireland has been to the forefront in promoting domestic holidays.
“Ultimately, staying at home supports our tourism industry at a devastating time, showing solidarity in the face of a pandemic that is costing lives and livelihoods across Ireland and the world.”
Spain is not on Ireland’s Green List of “safe” countries for safe travel. Ms O’Donoghue’s trip there was first reported in the Irish Examiner.
Ms Martin stated: “I rang Ms O’Donoghue this evening and she has offered her resignation which I have accepted.
“I wish to thank Ms O’Donoghue for her service as a member of the board of Fáilte Ireland and her important contribution to the work of promoting tourism in Ireland during this time.
“I have accepted her resignation as I believe it would not be tenable for her to continue in the role, given all of the circumstances.”
The Minister said she had sought a meeting with the Fáilte Ireland board “at the earliest opportunity”.
She said she will make clear to the members of the board that they are expected to show leadership during this time of unprecedented crisis in the sector which they represent.
Ms O’Donoghue, a former executive director of Primark/Penneys, was awarded the 2019 RDS Gold Medal for Enterprise.
She retired from the fashion company in 2016 after 37 years and told the Irish Times that one of the highlights of her career was opening a branch of Primark in Spain.