Golfgate: Commissioner Hogan says he didn’t breach safety measures
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Golfgate: Commissioner Hogan says he didn’t breach safety measures

© European Union 2019 – Source: EP

European Commissioner of Trade Phil Hogan has responded to criticism over participating in a dinner that did not adhere to Covid-19 safety measures by stating that other than attending the dinner, he himself did follow the measures “at all times”.

Hogan came under fire last week after attending the Irish Parliament’s Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden, Ireland, on 19 August. The event hosted more than 80 people, including many Irish politicians. The dinner is alleged to have been in violation of Ireland’s safety measures, which prohibits events with more than 15 attendees since 18 August (down from 50 since late June).

Ireland’s Minister of Agriculture, Dara Calleary, and Chair of the Irish Upper House, Jerry Buttimer, both attended the event alongside Hogan. Both have been forced to resign since.

On Tuesday, Commissioner Hogan tweeted his “memorandum to President von der Leyen outlining the relevant requirements issued by the Irish Government in relation to #Covid19, and how I adhered to them at all times during my recent visit to Ireland”.

“At the outset, I fully accept that it is abundantly clear that the event should not have been held and that I should not have attended this dinner. I accept this and have made a full apology to the Irish people for having done so.”

“I was an invited guest to the event on 19 August 2020 and was assured by the organisers and the Hotel that it was being held in full compliance with all relevant Covid-19 rules,” Hogan wrote.

“Again I now recognize that the event should not have proceeded and I should not have attended.”

Hogan affirms that he complied with Ireland’s safety measures by filling in a Passenger Locator Form after he arrived in Ireland, and that his negative Covid-19 test meant he did not have to self-isolate for the duration of his stay.

Lastly, Hogan stated that though the area he was initially residing in (Kildare town) had gone into lockdown while he was there, he had “a reasonable excuse” to leave for his home county of Kilkenny.  Hogan does not specify his excuse. He refers instead to the regulation, which holds no “prejudice to what constitutes a reasonable excuse”.

Hogan refers to the dinner once, stating “19 August – I played golf in Clifden, and subsequently attended a formal dinner for which I have since apologised”.

On Monday, Hogan was advised to “consider his position” after apologising for his actions. The President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, assigned Hogan in 2019 and will now decide whether Hogan will be able to continue his work as Commissioner of Trade.

Last Friday, Hogan was given the opportunity to offer Von der Leyen his personal explanation of the situation. The Commission has not commented on the situation, which is also known as ‘Golfgate’.

Amée Zoutberg
The Brussels Times

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