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Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Eamon Ryan: 'It is clear' that Phil Hogan breached public health guidelines

Though the government statement says concerns remain about the EU Commissioner’s account, it said that ultimately the decision lies with the European Commission President.

Image: DPA/PA Images

THE TAOISEACH, TÁNAISTE and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan have reacted to EU Commissioner Phil Hogan’s statement which attempts to explain his movements before and after the ‘golfgate’ dinner in Clifden.

At 2.30pm today, Hogan published a lengthy statement and timeline attempting to explain his whereabouts and the reasoning behind them. At 6pm, he did a short interview with RTÉ to explain his movements further.

The Commissioner has apologised for his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden on 19 August, which Hogan acknowledges he shouldn’t have taken place.

But questions still remain about whether Hogan restricted his movements as required upon returning from Brussels, and about whether he broke strict restrictions imposed on Co Kildare, which required those in the county not to leave it except for essential reasons (which the dinner in Clifden wasn’t).

The Irish Examiner reported today that Hogan was in Limerick on 12 August, questioning the extent of his movements while in Ireland further. Though Hogan’s statement mentions playing a game of golf in Adare, Co Limerick on 13 August, it doesn’t say he was in Limerick on 12 August – which would have been his last day of quarantine.

Reacting to Hogan’s explanation, the Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, Tánaiste and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar, and Minister for Transport and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan released a joint statement this evening.

While they welcome Hogan’s explanation and apology, they said that “concerns remain”.

It is clear that breaches of public health guidelines were made by Commissioner Phil Hogan since he travelled to Ireland.
The government guidelines clearly required him to restrict his movements for 14 days. He should also have limited his movements to and from Kildare for essential travel only, and he should not have attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner.
People are correctly angered by these actions given the sacrifices so many have made to adhere to public health guidance.

Significantly, it adds: “In addition, his delayed and hesitant release of information has undermined public confidence.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had called on Hogan do conduct an interview with the media to answer questions about these issues.

The President von der Leyen will now consider the explanation and documents provided to her by Hogan today.

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The government statement continues: “Commissioner Hogan is accountable to the President of the Commission Ms Ursula von der Leyen, under the legal framework outlined in the Treaties.

“The government now awaits the outcome of the review being undertaken by the President. Ultimately the Commissioner is accountable to the EU Commission, not to the Irish government movement or to the Oireachtas.”

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