‘Ming’ Flanagan: ‘Phil Hogan is not indispensable’

“If you are a beef farmer and you are looking at him trying to import 100,000t of untraceable beef from South America, you would not think he is doing a good job.”

MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan has criticised what he has called Phil Hogan’s “indispensability”, telling Newstalk this morning that he “does not know where people are getting the idea he was doing a good job”.

The European Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan is facing mounting pressure to resign from his role, following his attendance at the controversial Oireachtas Golf Society function last week.

Hogan was one of a number of high-profile politicians to attend the event. Others in attendance included the now former Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Dara Calleary, who resigned on Friday (August 21).

‘Phil Hogan is not indispensable’

Flanagan said he fears that if Hogan does not resign, the message will go out that “somehow he’s different”.

“Whether he likes it or not, he is just as likely to get the coronavirus as anyone else, and just as likely to pass it on as anyone else,” Flanagan said.

What we’re discussing at the moment is [that] Phil Hogan is indispensable; whereas Dara Calleary isn’t. I would argue that Phil Hogan is not indispensable and that we can survive without him.

“He’s about to embark on a negotiation with the UK over Brexit. I would say as things stand and, in fact, before this, he wasn’t very liked by the UK or any of the officials there.

“Now, he’s even more of an open target for them as on top of having a problem with them for his attitude over Brexit, which I’d agree with, this [controversy] can be brought up every time there’s a problem and can be thrown into the media.

“We need someone other than that to do this [Brexit]; it’s too important. We can’t leave it up to someone who can’t even work out where he was one day after another, let alone negotiate a deal with the UK that’s massively important to Ireland.”

Flanagan feels strongly that if Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, comes to a conclusion that Phil Hogan should no longer remain in his position, “she would not be pandering to the public; she would be listening to the public”.

“This is not just an Irish issue; this is an EU issue. In March, when I left Brussels, below me there was a family with two children living in an apartment the size of a shopping trolley.

“For the following five to six weeks, those children could not leave that apartment; but at the same time, their trade commissioner can do whatever he wants.”

‘All he does is annoy the people he deals with’

Flanagan said he “cannot take it without evidence that people are saying this guy [Hogan] is indispensable”.

“This guy was described by the head of the European Milk Board as incompetent [as Agriculture Commissioner] and asked Jean-Claude Juncker to remove him from his office,” he continued.

“I don’t know where people are getting the idea he was doing a good job.

If you are a beef farmer and you are looking at him trying to import 100,000t of untraceable beef from South America, you would not think he is doing a good job.

“All he does is annoy the people he deals with.”

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