Four people including two politicians to face charges over Golfgate event

DPP has recommended charges be brought against Noel Grealish and Donie Cassidy

 

Four people, including two politicians, are to face charges over alleged breaches of Covid-19 regulations during an Oireachtas Golf Society event in Galway last August.

The two political figures are Independent TD Noel Grealish, captain of the society, and former TD and Senator Donie Cassidy, the president of the Oireachtas Golf Society.

Donie Cassidy apologised at the time “unreservedly” on behalf of the golf society, and said “it was not our intention to disregard Government or health authorities’ advice”.
Donie Cassidy apologised at the time “unreservedly” on behalf of the golf society, and said “it was not our intention to disregard Government or health authorities’ advice”.

The others are understood to be based in Galway and helped the Oireachtas society organise the event.

In reply to queries, Garda Headquarters at Phoenix Park, Dublin confirmed the investigation into the event had now resulted in the DPP recommending charges be pursued against four people.

“An Garda Síochána has received directions from the DPP in relation to the prosecution of four individuals for organising an event in contravention of health regulations at a commercial premises in Galway in August 2020,” it said.

“Summons have been lodged with the courts and District Court dates in relation to each of the individuals are awaited. An Garda Síochána will not be commenting further.”

A total of 81 guests attended a dinner at the Station House Hotel following the golf event, leading to widespread public anger due to recently imposed restrictions on gatherings, which had been put in place to control the spread of the coronavirus.

None of those who attended the dinner were ever under Garda investigation as only the organisers faced investigation.

A total of 81 guests attended a dinner at the Station House Hotel following the golf event.
A total of 81 guests attended a dinner at the Station House Hotel following the golf event.

Those who attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner at the Station House Hotel in Clifden on August 19th included Supreme Court judge Séamus Woulfe, then EU commissioner Phil Hogan and then minister for agriculture Dara Calleary, as well as individuals from the worlds of politics, the media and business.

In the wake of the controversy over the dinner, Mr Calleary resigned his position and Mr Hogan followed later while six Senators drawn from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael lost the party whip. They have since been re-admitted.

Mr Woulfe’s attendance at the dinner was the subject of a review commissioned by the Chief Justice Frank Clarke and undertaken by the former chief justice Mrs Justice Susan Denham though he has since taken up his position in the courts.

Mr Cassidy apologised at the time “unreservedly” on behalf of the society, and said “it was not our intention to disregard Government or health authorities’ advice”.

On Wednesday afternoon, he said: “I received no summons yet and I will be vigorously defending it if I do get it”.

Mr Grealish said at the time he was assured the event was in line with the latest public health guidelines, but had come to realise that attending was an error of judgment.

Neither he nor The Station House Hotel responded to requests for comment on Wednesday.

The dinner took place at a time when the country was under Level 3 of the Government’s staged Covid-19 plan during which indoor gatherings of more than 50 people were banned.