Dara Calleary quit after it emerged he had attended the Oireachtas Golf Society event at the Station House Hotel in Clifden, County Galway, breaking coronavirus guidelines which stated that no more than 50 people should gather indoors.
The event came a day after it was announced that tighter lockdown restrictions were being put in place in Ireland after the number of cases increased over the past two weeks.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said in a statement: “This morning Deputy Dara Calleary tendered his resignation as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, following his attendance at the Oireachtas golf dinner on Wednesday evening.
“His attendance at this event was wrong and an error of judgment on his part. I have accepted his resignation.”
He added: “People all over the country have made very difficult, personal sacrifices in their family lives and in their businesses to comply with Covid regulations.
“This event should not have gone ahead in the manner it did given the Government decision of last Tuesday.
“Dara Calleary, since he was first elected to Dail Eireann, has been, and remains, a committed and dedicated public representative.
“This error of judgment was out of character. He has made the right decision for the country, particularly in the light of our continued efforts to suppress COVID-19.”
A number of other politicians also attended the event, including EU Commissioner Phil Hogan and former attorney general Seamus Woulfe.
Calleary, who cancelled a number of media appearances on Friday morning before his resignation was confirmed, was only appointed to the Cabinet role five weeks ago following the sacking of Barry Cowen over his refusal to provide further public statements on a 2016 drink-driving offence.
In a statement on Thursday night, Calleary apologised, saying he should not have attended the event.
He said: “Last night I attended a function I committed to a number of weeks ago, to pay tribute to a person I respected and admired greatly.
“In light of the updated public health guidance this week I should not have attended the event. I wish to apologise unreservedly to everyone.
“We are asking quite a lot from everyone at this difficult time. I also offer this apology and my sincere regret to my Government colleagues.”
Education Minister Norma Foley branded the decision to attend a “very serious error of judgment”.
“I understand the anger and frustration and indeed the disappointment,” she added.
“We are all being asked to play our part as we journey through COVID-19 so it absolutely should not have happened.
“But equally so, I want to say that Dara has made a fulsome apology, his remorse is absolutely genuine, and he has put up both hands now and he has resigned, and I think that is a measure of the man that he has done that.”
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