‘National interest dictates that Hogan must remain’ – ICMSA

A spokesperson for EU Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan has told RTÉ that he will not be resigning from his position in the wake of his controversial attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society function in Clifden last Wednesday (August 19).

Both the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had asked Hogan to do more to respond to the controversy after Dara Calleary had resigned from his role as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, having also attended the function, which was in breach of public health guidelines for Covid-19.

Also Read: ‘I complied fully’ with quarantine rules – Hogan

Commenting on calls for Hogan’s resignation, the president of the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), Pat McCormack, has warned against what he called “cutting off our Brexit nose to spite our Covid face”.

He said that it would be “strategically self-defeating and self-indulgent for the government or anyone with an appreciation of the national interest to demand the removal of someone who understood the Irish position in relation to Brexit as well as Commissioner Hogan”.

He acknowledged that he “fully understood the anger of the people suffering under official restrictions”  and he assured them that that anger was “absolutely shared by farmer members [of the ICMSA]”.

However, McCormack also said: “Many decisions taken in anger are often not the most strategic or far-sighted… I strongly believed that this is one of those instances.”

‘A Brexit deal that works for everyone’

The ICMSA president added that farmers had “more occasion than most” to feel angered by the whole episode, as they are “now contemplating the third Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine in eight weeks”.

Farmers and the wider food sector are also the most aware of the overriding need to get a satisfactory Brexit deal that works for everyone.

McCormack concluded that Ireland needed to “avoid the kind of conclusion that would damage Ireland most of all and shut us out of multi-billion euro British markets into which we have sold exports for centuries”.