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Clifden dinner

File on Golfgate investigation sent to Director of Public Prosecutions

The Oireachtas Golf Society guests are said to have been split into two separate groups to keep under the 50-person limit.

GARDAÍ HAVE SENT a file in relation to the Golfgate dinner to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Gardaí confirmed to today that a file in relation to political controversy – where elected representatives, former politicians, and a judge were accused of breaching the Covid-19 restrictions at the time – has been forwarded to the DPP. 

On 19 August last year, 81 people attended a dinner in a Clifden hotel, Co Galway as part of an Oireachtas Golf Society event. The guests were split into two separate groups and a partition was drawn between them, it’s been claimed.  

Gatherings had been limited to 50 people, but the day before the Golfgate dinner, the Government unveiled new restrictions to combat the growing number of Covid-19 cases.

On 21 August, Gardaí said it would probe alleged breaches of the The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No.3) Regulations 2020.

Under these regulations referenced by Gardaí, the law states that: “A person shall not organise, or cause to be organised, an event for cultural, entertainment, recreational, sporting, social, community or educational reasons in a relevant geographical location other than where one or more of the following applies:

(a) in the case of an indoor event, the maximum number of persons attending, or proposed to attend, the event (for whatever reason) does not exceed 50 persons.

The political fallout

Among those who attended the Golfgate dinner were Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary, EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, Supreme Court judge Séamus Woulfe, former RTÉ presenter Sean O’Rourke, and a number of Senators. 

Calleary resigned immediately from his role, and Hogan resigned later following increasing scrutiny of his whereabouts and actions.

A report by a former judge found that Séamus Woulfe’s resignation would be “disproportionate” to his actions, but the increased scrutiny of his decision to attend the dinner raised separate issues about the judicial appointment process.

Woulfe had been the Attorney General at the time that the Covid restrictions he is accused of breaching at the Clifden dinner were drafted.

Last week, Fianna Fáil readmitted three senators who attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden and had subsequently lost the whip; Fine Gael also readmitted three senators who had been present. 

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