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The chairman of tourism promotion body Failte Ireland, Michael Cawley, stepped down on Saturday hours after his trip abroad was reported in the media. His resignation came as Ireland recorded 200 new coronavirus cases in the biggest daily rise since the start of May.
While Italy is on Ireland’s official green list for safe travel, the Irish Government is asking people to take staycations.
Mr Cawley said he handed his resignation to Irish tourism minister Catherine Martin with “great regret”.
He said: “As has been reported in the media this morning I am on a pre-arranged family holiday in Italy, which is on the Government green list.
“As I have no wish to allow this issue to become a distraction from the important work of Failte Ireland in rebuilding the Irish tourism industry, I have decided after six years in the position to step down.
“I fully support the Government’s policy on tourism and I will continue to help the industry emerge from its current difficulties.”
Ms Martin said she was disappointed to find out about Mr Cawley’s holiday destination.
She added: “He recognises that solidarity with the industry is extremely important at this time, and I have accepted his resignation this afternoon because I believe his position was untenable.
“I would encourage everyone to support the tourism and hospitality industries in any way they can, and am taking my own holidays in this country.”
Mr Cawley’s resignation came as Ireland’s coronavirus cases jumped by 200 on Saturday.
The spike is the biggest daily increase since the beginning of May.
The total number of coronavirus cases recorded in Ireland now stands at 27,191.
No further deaths were reported with the toll remaining at 1,774.
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Dr Ronan Glynn, Ireland’s acting chief medical officer, described the jump in cases as “deeply concerning”.
He said: “This is the largest number of cases in a single day since the beginning of May.
“We now have multiple clusters with secondary spread of disease and rising numbers of cases in many parts of the country.
“This is deeply concerning.
“NPHET will monitor this extremely closely over the coming days.
“This virus is still out there and has not gone away.
“COVID-19 seeks to capitalise on complacency and is just waiting for the opportunity to spread.
“I am asking everyone, especially those who are over 70 or medically vulnerable, to limit your contacts, keep your distance from other people and take extra care to heed public health advice.”
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