Local senator and Castlepollard businessman, Donie Cassidy, had a lucky escape when a front wheel fell off the plane during landing on an internal flight in Turkey on Monday.
Donie, leader of the Senate, was one of a number of international parliamentarians taking part in a controversial, all-expenses-paid golfing trip in the Turkish resort of Antalya, organised by the national parliament as a celebration of its 90th anniversary of secular independence.
The TDs and senators were on final approach on an internal connecting flight to Istanbul on Monday when one of the front wheels on the aircraft became dislodged. The pilot managed to land the craft under control and bring it safely to a gate where all 170 souls on board got off without further incident. Turkish authorities have started an investigation.
Senator Cassidy was unavailable for comment this week due to a family bereavement, but fellow traveller, Galway TD Noel Grealish said they had been extremely frightened and that “it was a very scary landing” but they had not been fully aware of the situation until after they got off the plane.
“It could have been a major tragedy if we had lost the other wheel or if it had given way when the plane landed,” he said.
“The pilot didn't know anything until he hit the ground when the vibrations came through the plane and the front wheel struggled to hold the weight. Then the braking system started giving trouble, but thankfully the pilot was able to control the plane. Thank God the plane stopped and there were no injuries or fatalities.”
Senator Cassidy and Deputy Grealish were accompanied by Minister Phil Hogan and Leinster House worker John Flaherty on the controversial trip that saw Senate business suspended in the absence of the Dear Leader.