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Sam Boal

Fine Gael readmits three senators who lost the party whip over their attendance at Golfgate dinner

The party whip was removed from Senators Jerry Buttimer, Paddy Burke and John Cummins in August.

FINE GAEL PARLIAMENTARY PARTY has unanimously agreed to readmit three senators who lost the whip over their attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner last year.

The decision was reached at today’s meeting, which was held around the same time Mother and Baby Homes report was published. 

The motion for admittance was put down by Varadkar this afternoon.

“At the start of a new Oireachtas session I think it is time to readmit Senators Jerry Buttimer, Paddy Burke and John Cummins back into the Parliamentary Party.

“They have all acknowledged that what happened at the Oireachtas Golf event should not have happened, have apologised and took responsibility immediately,” Varadkar told party members this afternoon. 

“They have been out of the Parliamentary Party for five months and it’s time for them to get back to working with us across the whole range of Oireachtas work, including  battling against Covid,” he added.

A proposal to readmit the three senators to the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party will be on the agenda for the agreement of members at tomorrow evenings parliamentary party.

Tánaiste and Fine Gael Leader removed the party whip from Senators Jerry Buttimer, Paddy Burke and John Cummins “in recognition of the seriousness of this matter” last August.

Senator Jerry Buttimer also resigned from his position as Leas-Chathaoirleach of the Seanad at the time.

There was public fury over revelations that around 80 guests, including serving and former politicians, attended a golf dinner in a Co Galway hotel just a day after the government had announced strict new measures.

Fianna Fáil’s Dara Calleary – who sat at the Cabinet table as the new measures were decided – was forced to resign his position as Agriculture Minister after he attended the function.

Fine Gael’s Phil Hogan was also forced to step down as EU Trade Commissioner, while Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe has also been embriled in teh controversy.

Six serving senators – three each from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael were thrown out of their parliamentary parties.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin removed the party whip from Senators Paul Daly, Aidan Davitt and Niall Blaney after the Golfgate event. 

In a statement last August, in removing the whip from the three Fine Gael senators, Varadkar said the event organised by the Oireachtas Golf Society should not have happened.

“All have apologised profusely and accept they made a serious error of judgment,” Varadkar stated.

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