“Some are running a narrative that we should maintain the commissioner for the sake of Brexit. But I ask – what has the commissioner ever done for the people of Ireland?”

These are the words of Aontú leader Peader Tóibín, who has heavily criticised EU Commissioner Phil Hogan’s attendance at the notorious Oireachtas Golf Society function.

Calling on the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar to suspend Hogan from Fine Gael, deputy Tóibín has raised concerns over him currently remaining as commissioner.

“Some are running a narrative that we should maintain the commissioner for the sake of Brexit,” deputy Tóibín continued.

“What has the commissioner ever done for the people of Ireland?

It is really phenomenal to think that at the time of the Mercosur Trade Agreement, which will yet prove to be the final nail on the coffin of the Irish beef industry, the person holding the position of European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development was not only an Irish man; but a member of the political party in government at home here at the time.

“If the Tánaiste wishes to maintain any credibility in promoting adherence to the Covid-19 restrictions, he must take immediate disciplinary action against the commissioner for breaking the rules.”

‘The Department of Agriculture has become a laughing stock’

Claiming that the Department of Agriculture has “become a laughing stock in recent months”, deputy Tóibín feels that Fine Gael MEPs have not done enough for agriculture in the EU.

“Couple this with the fact that Fine Gael MEPs, who have, it must be said, very considerable power and clout in the EU, have done little for struggling farmers in Ireland and it becomes obvious the complete disdain with which the government views the Irish beef farmer.

“Commissioner Hogan seems to think he is above the rest of us; that he isn’t answerable to us.

The commissioner seems to think he is some sort of incorruptible celebrity who need not answer any of the questions the Irish people have for him.

“I would caution that if the commissioner were ever to return to democracy or electoral politics, the people would give him a very clear answer.”

Sequence of events

On Wednesday night (August 19), an Oireachtas Golf Society event with more than 80 people in attendance, in breach of the most recent public health guidelines, was held at the Station House Hotel in Clifden, Connemara, Co. Galway.

It was reported the next day (Thursday, August 20) that a number of attendees at the event were political figures, such as Dara Calleary and Phil Hogan. That evening, Dara Calleary apologised for his attendance “unreservedly”. He then resigned from his role as Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine on Friday (August 21). 

EU Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan continues to face mounting criticism for his attendance at the event, despite saying he “complied fully” with government quarantine requirements in a statement.

Since the news emerged, Hogan has issued at least six public statements on the matter. Due to further details that have emerged about his actions, both the Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar have asked Hogan to do more to respond to the controversy.

It is believed that Hogan is now preparing a report on the matters concerning the event.