Donie Cassidy ‘very pleased’ to be elected Fianna Fáil vice-president

Organiser of Golfgate dinner topped poll at party árdfheis this weekend

Donie Cassidy, organiser of the so-called Golfgate event which caused major political controversy during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, has been elected vice-president of Fianna Fáil.

The former TD and Senator topped the poll in a vote at the party’s árdfheis this weekend.

Mr Cassidy, a former leader of the Seanad, was acquitted of charges relating to the Golfgate event in the Station House Hotel, Clifden in August 2020 last year. The District Court found the organisers of the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Co Galway had acted fully within the law.

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Cassidy said he had stepped down from the position at the time so he would “not bring the party into disrepute”.

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The second great question that Fianna Fáil must address in the medium-term future is the possibility of Coalition with Sinn Féin after the next election. There was plenty of old-time religion for the delegates with motions about a united Ireland and the conference seemed to be making a concerted effort to reclaim the “republican” tag, but Sinn Féin’s ascendancy in the polls isn’t driven by its advocacy for a united Ireland – it’s driven, largely, by the chronic shortage of affordable housing av

The event saw around 80 guests – primarily politicians – attend a dinner in two rooms divided by a partition, which caused huge public anger due to Covid-19 limits on gatherings in place at the time.

The political fallout from the event saw Dara Calleary resign as minister for agriculture and Phil Hogan resigning as EU trade commissioner, as well as several Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Oireachtas members and councillors losing the party whip. Mr Cassidy had also resigned as vice president of Fianna Fáil over the controversy.

The former TD said he was “very pleased” to be elected as a vice-president of the party again, and was looking forward to working to “rebuild the party” ahead of the next local and European elections.

Mr Cassidy topped the poll with 314 votes, with party member Arthur Griffith from Tipperary and councillor Aoife McCooey from Monaghan also elected as vice-presidents.

The party has five vice-presidents, two of whom must be members of the parliamentary party — one female and one male. Minister of State Mary Butler and Eamon Ó Cuiv, TD for Galway West, were elected unopposed to those two positions.

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times