Limited sympathy for Calleary in Mayo heartland

‘Older people are being penalised all the time, and they are not out partying’

Fianna Fáil’s   Dara Calleary. “If he was a young TD you’d have some sympathy for him,” said a local man, “but he is a long time on the road”

Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary. “If he was a young TD you’d have some sympathy for him,” said a local man, “but he is a long time on the road”

 

In Dara Calleary’s home town of Ballina,Co Mayo, there are people who seem inclined to blame everyone except the Fianna Fáil TD for “golfgate”. Some say it was the hotel’s responsibility, while others suggest that political rivals, “waiting in the long grass” for him to make a mistake , had seized their moment.

And then there are people like local woman Eva Petrie who is disgusted with the “nobs” who had gone off on their golfing jolly while everyone else is trying to do the right thing.

Or Rossport man Terence Conway, who says those caught up in the controversy “have proven yet again their contempt for the ordinary people”.

On the same wavelength, Karen Ruane, a young woman with a health condition which makes her vulnerable, said the story about more than 80 people attending the Co Galway function, many of them high profile and in positions of power, was “a kick in the teeth” .

Yet for many on the streets of Ballina on Friday there was a reluctance to, as they saw it, kick the local man when he is down.

Mary Corcoran from Attymas near Ballina was typical. “I don’t really know what to say. I was surprised, but I suppose we all make mistakes.”

Another woman who would not give her name said she was “disappointed”rather than angry with the local TD, whose time as Minister was so short-lived. “Maybe he didn’t realise there would be so many people there,” she offered.

Another woman said she blamed the hotel. “Surely it was their responsibility. My nephew has a pub, but he closed it down when he realised he could not control the numbers.”

Local cobbler Harry McCafferty was bewildered as to why Mr Calleary had done something “so stupid”.

“He had to fall on his sword. And he has let a lot of people down. He waited so long for the top job and he has thrown it all away.”

Different rules

Mr McCafferty echoed the views of many in Ballina when he said EU commissioner Phil Hogan should also be stepping down. “Is it a case that there is one rule for them and different rules for the rest of us?” asked the Mayo man.

He said Mr Calleary should have known that people “were waiting in the long grass with their knives out”, and would seize on any mistake he made. “Fine Gael and Sinn Féin will be laughing now.”

Ms Petrie was not laughing. “That event should never have gone ahead. I am just disgusted with those nobs and their golf. Older people are being penalised all the time and they are not out partying.”

Mr Conway believes the actions of those who attended the event in Clifden will give succour to the “extreme right-wingers” who rail against masks and other safety measures introduced by the Government. “I was very angry but not surprised when I heard about this. They consistently show their contempt for the people.”

He said Mr Calleary had done the right thing when he resigned “but they did it because they were caught”.

Mr Conway said he had not seen his own siblings in months. “My sister is a home-help and I would be afraid to inadvertently pass the virus to her and then maybe put her and the people she looks after at risk.”

Two local men, reluctant to be too critical of the local TD, expressed surprised that Mr Calleary had allowed himself to be in this position.

“If he was a young TD you’d have some sympathy for him,” said one, “but he is a long time on the road.”

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