‘The controversy would distract from my work’ – Hogan

Phil Hogan has resigned from his position as European Commissioner for Trade.

This follows on from the mounting fallout from his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society function last week, and the ensuing public debate about his conduct in relation to public health guidelines.

In a statement this evening (Wednesday, August 26), Hogan said: “This evening I have tendered my resignation as EU Trade Commissioner to the President of the European Commission, Dr. Ursula von der Leyen.

It was becoming increasingly clear that the controversy concerning my recent visit to Ireland was becoming a distraction from my work as an EU Commissioner and would undermine my work in the key months ahead.

“I deeply regret that my trip to Ireland – the country that I have been so proud to represent as a public servant for most of my adult life – caused such concern, unease and upset. I have always tried to comply with all relevant Covid-19 regulations in Ireland and had understood that I had met with all relevant public health guidelines, particularly following confirmation of a negative Covid-19 test,” he added.

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Hogan continued: “I reiterate my heartfelt apology to the Irish people for the mistakes I made during my visit. The Irish people have made incredible efforts to contain the coronavirus, and the European Commission will continue to support you, and all EU member states, in defeating this terrible pandemic.”

“I recognise and appreciate the devastating impact of Covid-19 on individuals and families, and I fully understand their sense of hurt and anger when they feel that those in public service do not meet the standards expected of them.

As a public representative I should have been more rigorous in my adherence to the Covid guidelines.

“It has been the honour of my life to serve as European Commissioner, first in agriculture and rural development and then in trade… I believe that Ireland’s destiny is deeply European, and that our small, proud, open nation will continue to play an inspiring and proactive role at the heart of the EU,” Hogan added.

His statement went on to say: “Brexit also represents a significant challenge for the EU and for Ireland in particular for which I have been centrally involved from the outset. I hope that the EU Member States – with Ireland at their vanguard – and the UK, can overcome their differences and work together to reach a fair, mutually beneficial and sustainable trade deal.

Hogan concluded his remarks by thanking President von der Leyen, the other commissioners, his political team and his family for their “support and encouragement”.