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Timeline: Here's how Phil Hogan's statements about the Golfgate dinner have changed in the past three days

More information about Hogan’s movements has emerged over the weekend.

The government says that Phil Hogan still has questions to answer.
The government says that Phil Hogan still has questions to answer.
Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE OIREACHTAS GOLF Society dinner controversy has already prompted a raft of apologies and resignations.

Yet Phil Hogan, the EU trade commissioner set to play a crucial role in Brexit, is still clinging on – and showing no public inclination of any intention to resign. 

This is despite growing public and political pressure, intensified by the drip-feed of revelations in recent days about his whereabouts. 

Hogan was forced to admit last night that he was stopped by gardaí in locked-down Kildare en route from his home in the county to the dinner, after stopping off to pick up work documents. 

It was just the latest in a long line of statements and clarifications isssued by the former minister and Kilkenny TD, who during his domestic career was regarded as one of the most formidable political bruisers in Fine Gael.  

Here’s what he and his spokespeople have said so far… 

Thursday, 20 August

The Irish Examiner breaks the story that over 80 senior political figures attended a dinner in Clifden organised by the Oireachtas Golf Society. 

While the initial focus is on Dara Calleary, scrutiny quickly turns to the other guests – including Phil Hogan. 

At 10.40pm, WLR FM’s Damien Tiernan – the former RTÉ South East correspondent – tweets that Hogan confirmed to him that he attended the dinner. 

A spokesperson for Hogan also confirms to multiple outlets that he attended the dinner.

The spokesperson says that Hogan complied with all public health guidelines upon entering Ireland from Brussels and restricted his movements as required. 

Friday, 21 August

On Friday morning, Hogan tweets a short statement but doesn’t apologise. 

“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,” he says.

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

That same day, a spokeswoman for the European Commission says that Hogan attended the event in “good faith”. 

“He attended this event on the clear understanding that the organisers and the hotel concerned had been assured by the Irish Hotels Federation, that the arrangements proposed to be put in place for the event, were or would be in compliance with the government’s guidelines,” Reuters reports the spokeswoman as saying. 

“Of course with hindsight he regrets the fact that this seems not to be the case. And with hindsight he would not attend an event which is not in line with the obligations.”

A spokesperson for Hogan later issues further details on Hogan’s movements since entering Ireland. 

It’s confirmed Hogan left his residence in Kildare two days before the localised lockdown restrictions were put in place.

He initially spent time in Kildare before staying in Kilkenny, the spokesperson says. 

The spokesperson says that Hogan returned to Ireland at the end of July and then went to Kildare. He left the county on 5 August for his hospital appointment and as part of that appointment, he tested negative for Covid-19. 

“At the conclusion of that appointment, he went to Co Kilkenny for a period of convalescence and this is where he completed his period of quarantine.”

The spokesperson says that Hogan travelled “directly” from Kilkenny to Galway for the golf event:

He travelled to the golf event in Co Galway directly from Co Kilkenny. Thus, there is no question of him having breached the local lockdown requirements which continue to apply in Co Kildare.

Appearing on the RTÉ Six One News, Taoiseach Micheál Martin is critical of Hogan’s response to the public’s anger and called on the commissioner to offer a full apology. 

“I would like a meaningful response to the mood of the public and the anger of the public towards this issue,” Martin says.

Following that appearance, a spokesperson for Hogan says that he has already apologised for attending the event. 

The spokesperson adds that Hogan “regretted” attending. They say that Hogan had apologised earlier that day, apparently referring to the statement from the European Commission spokesperson. 

In the earlier statement, the European Commission spokesperson said that he “regretted” the fact that the event had apparently not been in compliance with public health guidelines. 

Saturday, 22 August

Pressure continues to build. On Saturday evening Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar say that they have spoken to Phil Hogan and asked him to “consider his position”

Most take this to mean that the government wants Hogan to resign. 

In response, a spokesperson for Hogan tells RTÉ News that “there will be no response this evening to the call from the Taoiseach and Tánaiste that he consider his position”.

“We will reflect on that.” 

It’s reported Hogan has now travelled back to Brussels. 

Sunday, 23 August

Early on Sunday afternoon Hogan tweets another apology. 

“I wish to apologise fully and unreservedly for attending the Oireachtas golf society dinner on Wednesday night last,” he says. 

He says that he understood that his actions “touched a nerve for the people of Ireland”. 

“I want, in particular, to apologise to the wonderful healthcare workers, who continue to put their lives on the line to combat Covid 19 and all people who have lost loved ones during this pandemic.

“I thus offer this fulsome and profound apology, at this difficult time for all people, as the world as a whole combats Covid 19.”

eu-college-of-commissioners-meeting-in-brussels Hogan, alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Source: DPA/PA Images

On the This Weeek programme on RTÉ Radio One, Varadkar is asked whether Hogan’s apology is enough. 

“The apology helps, it would have been better if it had come sooner but it definitely helps. I think as well he needs to account for himself and explain his own actions,” he says. 

“He needs to answer any questions people have, and that’s not just in relation to the dinner, it’s also any questions that might arise from his movements within the country and his movements in and out of Co Kildare.”

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is following events closely, it’s confirmed.

“She requested Commissioner Hogan to provide a full report with details of the event. it is important that facts are established in detail to carefully assess the situation,” a European Commission spokesperson says.

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It also emerges that Hogan had stopped in Kildare before going to Galway. His spokesperson confirms that he travelled to the county “briefly” before going to Clifden in order to collect “personal belongings and essential documents”. 

“He stopped briefly at his apartment to collect personal belongings and essential documents relating to the EU-US trade negotiations, which continued while the Commissioner was in Galway,” the spokesperson said. 

“The lockdown guidelines for Kildare provide for exceptional travel outside the [county] ‘to travel to work and home again’,” his spokesperson said. 

It’s later revealed, and confirmed by a spokesperson, that Hogan was stopped by gardaí in Kildare for using his mobile phone while driving. 

“On the occasion that the Commissioner stopped off briefly in Co Kildare on 17 August, en route from Kilkenny to Galway, he was stopped by a Garda for using his mobile phone while driving.”

Throughout the day the spokesperson insisted the Commissioner would not be resigning. 

But the revelation again raised fresh questions about the actions of Hogan.  

Monday 24 August

Pressure continues to build on Hogan. First, housing minister Darragh O’Brien calls for Hogan to step down in an interview with RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland. 

Then, Martin re-iterates his call for Phil Hogan to make a “comprehensive statement” about his actions. 

He says he is seeking an explanation from the EU Commissioner because it would be “particularly serious” if it emerged that Hogan had breached the Government’s Covid-19 guidelines when he was in Kildare.

At the European Commission level it emerges President Ursula von der Leyen is seeking further details from Hogan about what exactly happened, according to a European Commission spokesperson. 

She received his report on the controversy last night. 

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