Head of Ireland's tourism authority resigns after holidaying in Italy

Current Irish government advice is to avoid non-essential travel abroad during the Covid-19 pandemic

A Deliveroo delivery cyclist passes by a closed tourist information office in Dublin, Ireland, on Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. Ireland is one of the most open countries in the world in economic terms, according to the KOF Globalisation Index, having built its economic strategy on a low corporate tax rate and a plentiful supply of well-educated, English-speaking workers. Photographer: Aidan Crawley/Bloomberg
Powered by automated translation

The chairman of Ireland's tourism authority, former Ryanair chief operating officer Michael Cawley, resigned on Saturday after going on holiday to Italy, contrary to government advice to avoid non-essential travel abroad.

Mr Cawley, a Ryanair director who also served as finance chief and deputy chief executive at the airline, faced calls from opposition parties to quit after he confirmed to the Irish Independent newspaper on Saturday that he was holidaying in Italy.

Mr Cawley is the first senior official in Ireland to resign for flouting coronavirus guidance.

Scotland's chief medical officer resigned in April after she ignored her own advice to stay at home during its Covid-19 lockdown.

Italy is one of 10 countries on the government's green list, meaning anyone arriving in Ireland can avoid a 14-day quarantine requirement that applies to travellers from anywhere else.

However, official travel advice since Ireland's coronavirus outbreak began in February has remained that non-essential travel abroad should be avoided and people have been encouraged to holiday at home to support the hard-hit tourism sector.

Failte Ireland, the tourism development authority, has been giving extra funding to promote domestic tourism.

Mr Cawley said in a statement that he decided to step down because he did not wish to allow the issue to distract from Failte Ireland's work in rebuilding the Irish tourism industry.

Tourism minister Catherine Martin said she was disappointed to learn that Mr Cawley was holidaying in Italy and believed his position was untenable.