#Golfgate latest: Taoiseach and Tánaiste asked Phil Hogan to consider his position

#Golfgate latest: Taoiseach and Tánaiste asked Phil Hogan to consider his position

Cartoon by Harry Burton. @hbtoons

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The Taoiseach and Tánaiste have each asked EU Commissioner Phil Hogan to consider his position as the fallout from Wednesday's Oireachtas Golf Society dinner continues.

While the government has no say in Mr Hogan's role as Trade Commissioner, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar have each asked the former Carlow-Kilkenny TD to consider his position after he was one of over 80 people to attend the dinner.

A government spokesperson confirmed that “The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste did speak with Commissioner Hogan today and asked him to consider his position.

"They both believe that the event should never have been held , that the Commissioner’s apology came late and that he still needs to give a full account and explanations of his actions”.

Phil Hogan returns to Brussels amid resignation calls

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has left Ireland and returned to Brussels.

Mr Hogan was among over 80 people who attended Wednesday night's Oireachtas Golf Society event, which has led to the resignation of Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary.

He was on board a Ryanair flight from Dublin to the Belgian capital this morning.

Sources say that the flight was booked yesterday, though a spokesperson could not confirm this detail.

Mr Hogan is expected back in his office as EU Trade Commissioner on Monday.

Having declined to initially, Mr Hogan has apologised for attending the event, but said that he had been assured it would follow the Covid-19 guidelines.

A statement last night apologised for "the distress" his attendance had caused.

Mr Hogan had been isolating at an address in Kildare following his return from Brussels.


Junior Minister Martin Heydon claims senators have paid 'a massive price'

A senior member of Government has said the senators who broke Covid-19 regulations by attending the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner have “paid a massive price” for their actions.

Opposition parties have called for the Dáil to be recalled over the scandal which saw 81 people, including a Government minister, a Supreme Court Judge and an EU Commissioner, attending the event in County Galway.

On Newstalk Breakfast with Eamon Torsney this morning, Junior Minister Martin Heydon said the senators involved have “paid a massive price.” 

“The six senators have all lost the party whip and have lost their respective roles in the Seanad so I think a very clear message has gone to people in power here,” he said.

“There are very real, significant consequences for anybody, particularly someone in power because we are held to a different level of account that, if we are found to have broken the restrictions we are trying to encourage others to make, you have to be held to a different level of account and that has happened.”

“Obviously, it blackens the name of all politicians, even those that were not involved but also it makes it so much harder for the job we need to do. To bring people with us.” 

The Fine Gael TD expressed hope the public would recognise the “really significant fallout” from the event.

I have no doubt Dara Calleary, if he had his time over again, absolutely would take it back and recognise the massive mistake that was made here.

“We saw an awful lot of politicians who hold positions that were key in making decisions,” he said.

“We have a Cabinet minister who lost his job here, who paid a very big price for attending this.

He said he accepts the apologies put forward by Supreme Court Justice Seamus Woulfe and EU Commissioner Phil Hogan.

If sacking's good enough for Dara Calleary then it's good enough for Phil Hogan - MEP Luke Flanagan

Phil Hogan broke the same guidelines as Dara Calleary at a Galway event and should face the same punishment, according to an MEP.

The EU Trade Commissioner is facing calls to resign after attending an Oireachtas golf society dinner in Clifden on Wednesday where 81 people were present.

Mr Hogan has apologised for attending while saying he had been assured it would follow the Covid-19 guidelines.

Midlands North-West MEP Luke 'Ming' Flanagan has said the president of the European Commission needs to sanction Mr Hogan.

Mr Flanagan said: "His position is not tenable, Micheál Martin got rid of Dara Calleary for doing the exact same thing so now he needs to talk to Ursula von der Leyen to tell her that Phil Hogan needs to be removed from his position.

"Because if it's good enough to remove Dara Calleary then he needs to talk to Ursula von der Leyen and he needs to get this man out of the position that he's in."

Yesterday, the Midlands North-West MEP wrote to the President of the European Commission calling for Commissioner Hogan to be fired.

Also, People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett believes Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe needs to be held to account.

He said: "The former Attorney General, now Supreme Court judge, had signed off on the emergency legislation around Covid-19. He would have been familiar, in detail, with the public health restrictions and yet was involved in a flagrant violation of those restrictions.

"It's completely untenable that he would not be held to account for that."

President of Oireachtas Golf Society apologises

The President of the Oireachtas Golf Society has apologised for the event in Galway on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, Donie Cassidy said the dinner was held under guidance approved by the Irish Hotels Federation.

The hotel group said the advice is multiple gatherings can be held in the same venue as long as there are separate entrances and toilets.

Mr Cassidy also said he will co-operate fully with the Garda investigation, and it was not their intention to disregard public health advice.

'Nobody is too big to fall' - Labour calls Phil Hogan's position 'untenable'

The Labour Leader Alan Kelly has said the EU Commissioner Phil Hogan's position is untenable.

Mr Kelly says he knew the rules when he attended the Oireachtas Golf Society event in Galway.

Phil Hogan has apologised for attending the event in Clifden on Wednesday, which breached Covid-19 guidelines.

Deputy Kelly says the Taoiseach knew Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary had to resign and he must put pressure on Phil Hogan to go too:

He said: "If Micheal Martin feels that Dara Calleary's position was untenable, which it was, well then Phil Hogan's is equally untenable.

"Nobody is too big to fall and we do have to say it out straight that the commissioner now will have to be moved, will have to be changed.

"If the commission don't do it, well then the Taoiseach of Ireland will have to come out and say quite publically 'we do not have confidence in him'."

A leading farming organisation is calling on the Taoiseach to immediately appoint a new Agriculture Minister.

Micheál Martin said he will hold the role himself for the next three weeks until Dara Calleary's successor is appointed.

However, ICSA national president Edmond Phelan said that is not good enough.

Mr Phelan said: "The Taoiseach has way too much to be doing to be taking on another ministry, it really is nonsensical.

"We really need at this point somebody and we need them immediately, they can't come in around the end of September and try and read into a ministry.

"There are only 18 weeks left before Britain, our main market, leaves the EU."

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