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Former EU Commissioner Phil Hogan was not 'treated like a criminal', says Taoiseach

Micheál Martin says Hogan paid a very heavy price at the time.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said he does not believe that former EU Commissioner Phil Hogan was treated like a “criminal” in the aftermath of Golfgate.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Hogan said he was treated like a “criminal” stating that a media “mob” engulfed him during the controversy of the Oireachtas Golf Society event in 2020.

Hogan has also suggested that he may seek compensation from the European Commission over his resignation amid the Golfgate controversy.

Hogan resigned from the trade commissioner role in August 2020 after attending the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner and as revelations about his movements during severe pandemic restrictions emerged.

The resignation followed a demand from Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to account for his time in Ireland around the society event.

When asked in Berlin if he agrees with Hogan’s comments that he was treated like a “criminal”, the Taoiseach responded: “I don’t believe so.”

“I think the issue that Phil raised is one between the European Commission.

“He’s paid a very heavy price for the situation at the time. He was a diligent and effective Commissioner.

“But as I said before, there was a context to that time as well, in terms of where the public were in terms of adherence to the guidance and the spirit of the Covid-19 guidance.

“Fundamentally, I haven’t read the interview but I heard feedback from it in terms of what has been articulated and fundamentally, it’s a matter between the Commission and Phil Hogan,” he said.

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When asked if he or the Tánaiste will reflect on their actions as regards Hogan’s position and the controversy at the time, Martin said:

“I have reflected on that, I’ve been very clear from the beginning on that. I’ve never looked at this issue through the narrow prism of a legal channel or a court situation, rather looked at it from a broader situation of public trust.”

He said it was an “issue of trust” adding that the actions of Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary stepping down as minister at the time “actually did a lot to maintain that trust between government and the people”.

Political Correspondent Christina Finn reporting from Berlin

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