Share article:
Share article:

EU Commissioner Hogan resigns over Golfgate

Former EU Commissioner Phil Hogan. © European Commission

Phil Hogan, the EU Commissioner for trade, has resigned his seat following a scandal back home in Ireland.

Hogan had broken Ireland’s coronavirus regulations when he attended a dinner at a golf club in County Galway earlier in the month which catered to some 80 guests. Large gatherings of that sort are not permitted in Ireland at present.

At the same time, Hogan’s offence was compounded as it later emerged he had made a non-essential detour to his home in Kilkenny, he says to pick up documents necessary for his work in Brussels. That detour only came to light because he was stopped by police and given a ticket for using his mobile phone while driving.

All along, Hogan tried to excuse his behaviour, claiming he had checked with the organisers of the dinner beforehand to make sure they had complied with all of the relevant coronavirus measures.

He then issued a statement in which he apologised “unreservedly” before going on to argue that no-one at the time of the dinner knew that the rules to tackle the virus had changed.

In the meantime, Hogan had been called onto the carpet by Taoiseach Micheál Martin (prime minister) and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar (deputy prime minister), where he was advised to “consider his position” – a diplomatic way of suggesting he might resign.

He now joins agriculture minister Dara Calleary and Jerry Buttimer, the chair of the Irish upper house among the victims of Golfgate, and his departure leaves Ireland hoping his replacement can hold on to the important portfolio of trade as Brexit looms.

Hogan tendered his resignation to Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

I’m resigning because I want to ensure people understand I know I made mistakes,” he told the Irish Independent. “I broke no law – or no regulation – but I should have given more care to the guidelines and advice,” he said.

President Von der Leyen issued a brief statement: “He was a valuable and respected member of the College. I wish him all the best for the future.”

Taoiseach Martin said he had not been officially informed of Hogan’s resignation, but had learned of it via social media.

The three leaders of the coalition parties issued a joint statement: “We believe that it is the correct course of action given the circumstances of the past week. We all have a responsibility to support and adhere to public health guidelines and regulations. We all must persevere in our efforts against Covid-19. Former Commissioner Hogan has served Europe and Ireland with distinction. The Government will consider his replacement in due course.”

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Coronavirus: Nearly 1,000 patients hospitalized, 80 admissions a day on average
Between October 10 and 16, an average of 3,151 people were infected with Covid-19 every day, according to figures from the Sciensano Public Health ...
‘More concern and false impressions’: colds are not worse than before, experts say
While it seems like cold viruses are hitting especially hard this autumn, with more severe and longer-lasting symptoms, doctors are saying that this ...
More women take police selection tests in Belgium
The selection tests to become a police inspector have more and more female participants, according to figures released by Interior Affairs Minister ...
‘Absurd’: all Brussels schools should have the same Covid rules
Several city councillors for education in Brussels are calling to abolish the "absurd" differences in coronavirus measures for Dutch-speaking and ...
Massive renovations for iconic venue in the heart of Brussels
Brussels concert hall Ancienne Belgique has announced plans to renovate the AB Café and the AB Salon and is looking for a contractor fit for the job. ...
Display of child’s room in Brussels raises awareness of foster families
An exhibit that features a fictitious child’s bedroom has been on display since Tuesday at the Place d'Armes in Namur, with the support of the ...
Test results show pupils have fallen behind in Flemish schools
Learning delays have been reported in almost all subject areas in Flanders since the start of the pandemic, a trend that continued in 2021, a ...
Belgium considers relaxing testing rules for UK travellers
At the next Consultative Committee meeting, Belgium will look into relaxing the testing and entry policy for travellers coming from the United ...
Jette libraries start giving plants away with books
Visitors to libraries in the Brussels municipality of Jette will soon be able to pick up a free plant along with a book, thanks to the new Plantotek ...
‘Do what you want, but do it as safely as possible,’ experts warn
As the daily number of new coronavirus infections exceeds 3,000 for the first time since May, infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe and ...
‘We’re running dry’: Brussels teacher shortage reaches critical levels
The teacher shortage in Brussels is affecting schools across language borders, according to Brussels’ Minister for Multilingualism and Dutch ...
New coronavirus infections above 3,000 for first time since May
The number of people testing positive for coronavirus has skyrocketed to the highest rate since the start of May 2021. Between 9 and 15 October, ...