‘I complied fully’ with quarantine rules – Hogan

EU Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan is facing mounting criticism for his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society event, despite saying he “complied fully” with government quarantine requirements.

News emerged last night that Hogan, along with 80 others, had attended the Co. Galway event on Wednesday of this week (August 19), in breach of public health guidelines that had been announced the previous day.

Among those who attended the event was Dara Calleary, who has since resigned from the position of Minister for Agriculture as a result. Jerry Buttimer, who was also in attendance, has resigned from the role of Seanad Leas-Cathaoirleach.

Also Read: Dara Calleary has resigned as Minister for Agriculture

In a statement, Hogan said:

“I attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner on Wednesday on the clear understanding that the organisers and the hotel concerned had been assured [by the Irish Hotels’ Federation] that the arrangements put in place would be in compliance with the government’s guidelines.

Prior to the event, I had complied fully with the government’s quarantine requirements, having been in Ireland since late July.

Hogan is the former EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. He has previously served as a Fine Gael TD and as Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government.

Gardaí investigating the event

Gardaí are investigating the Oireachtas Golf Society event. In a brief statement, Gardaí said:

“An Garda Síochána is investigating an event that was held in Co. Galway on August 19, 2020, into alleged breaches of the Health Act 1947 [Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions] [Covid-19] [No.3] Regulations 2020, as amended.

“As this is an active investigation, An Garda Síochána has no further comment,” the statement added.

A number of attendees removed from political roles

In a statement this afternoon, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that “in recognition of the seriousness of this matter” he has removed the party whip from senators: Jerry Buttimer; Paddy Burke; and John Cummins.

Varadkar added: “The event organised by the Oireachtas Golf Society should not have happened. I understand how extremely difficult the restrictions have been for people and the enormous sacrifices we have all made.

Funerals, christenings, weddings, family holidays and other really important family occasions have been foregone to protect each other and the most vulnerable. As representatives, we should lead by example.

A number of attendees have issued apologies, including Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe. In a statement, he confirmed that he attended the event, but that he was “not aware in advance that there was going to be an organised dinner”.

“That I ended up in a situation where breaches may have occurred is of great regret to me and for which I am sorry. I unreservedly apologise,” his statement concluded.