Limerick TD Willie O’Dea backs call for axing of golf society

Nick Rabbitts

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Nick Rabbitts

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Limerick TD Willie O’Dea backs call for axing of golf society

FIANNA Fail TD Willie O’Dea has supported calls for the winding up of the Oireachtas Golf Society following the controversial Clifden meeting.

The former Defence Minister said it is “completely unacceptable” that 80 people, including senior government TDs, dignitaries and European Commissioner Phil Hogan, would gather in breach of social distancing guidelines.

Already, Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary has resigned, while a number of Senators have had the party whip withdrawn. Others who attended the Galway event have issued apologies.

“A big part of the government strategy is to persuade people to act responsibly. You can have all the rules and regulations in the world, but the Covid-19 rise won't be halted or reversed unless people act responsibly, and when you see these leaders of society acting in this manner, flouting the regulations, it makes it much more difficult to persuade the ordinary public, who are already weary of the restrictions, to comply,” said Mr O’Dea.

The Limerick City TD said he would support calls from Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl for the Oireachtas Golf Society to be wound up.

He said: “I don't know what useful purpose it serves. Maybe I'm a bit biased as I don't play golf. If people want to play golf, join a golf club and play golf. Members of the Oireachtas in a private capacity, I don't think it adds to the way you can represent the public to have your own separate golfing society.”

Although Taoiseach Micheál Martin will take on the role of acting Agriculture Minister until the Dail reconvenes next week, there will likely be yet another reshuffle in the Fianna Fail ranks.

Mr O’Dea – in cabinet from 2004 to 2010 – played down his chances of securing an appointment either in a senior or junior capacity.

“I think being realistic, I'll not be offered a position in a reshuffle, and I haven't sought any. I presume whoever will replace Dara Calleary, they will probably pick someone from the west.

As regards a junior, Micheál Martin has already shown he does not regard Limerick City as being entitled to a junior ministry. I doubt he's changed his mind on that.”

For more on #GolfGate, see page four