Golf dinner: Hotels Federation says it has no role in enforcing health and safety rules

Hogan said he attended event because hotel was assured of compliance by federation

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has moved to distance itself from the Oireachtas Golf Society's dinner controversy by insisting it had absolutely no role in "enforcing, monitoring or approving" health and safety rules at any hotel or guesthouse in the country.

The EU trade commissioner, Phil Hogan, said last week he attended the event at the Station House Hotel in Clifden only "on the clear understanding that the organisers and the hotel concerned" had been assured by the IHF that the arrangements in place would comply with Government guidelines.

However, the IHF said on Sunday morning it “provides general advice and had no role in organising or providing clearance for this event”.

It also said the controversy highlighted “limitations” in how the Government had been communicating messages about changes to public health advice and suggested there was a “time lag” between when such changes were announced and when operational guidelines for businesses were updated.


“As the representative body for hotels and guesthouses, we have worked closely with the Government throughout this pandemic to ensure robust operational procedures and industry guidelines are in place and effectively communicated in order to safeguard public health in line with evolving Government advice,” the IHF said in statement.

It stressed that its role was to provide “general guidance, and at all times we encourage hotels and guesthouses to comply with the required guidelines. We do not have any role in enforcing, monitoring or approving the implementation of this guidance or operational guidelines.”

The statement hailed the "enormous and essential work done by both the Department of Tourism and Fáilte Ireland in equipping our sector with the required guidance and advice necessary to operate safely in line with public health advice".

However, the representative group said it had also “experienced first-hand the challenges for businesses in relation to wider Government communications around public health advice” and it pointed towards Government press conferences “announcing changes to public health advice in the absence of updated operational guidelines for businesses”.

‘Time lag’

The statement said that as a result of this “time lag, there is an established process in place with the Department of Tourism for when changes are announced in that the status quo remains in place until updated guidance is issued by the department”.

The statement also detailed a timeline of relevant events last week. It said the Government conference at which additional public health measures affecting food businesses were announced was held on Tuesday evening.

The IHF said it received a follow-up query from the organiser of the Oireachtas Golf Society in relation to the guidelines for indoor gatherings on Wednesday morning.

“We indicated that we had no update from the Department of Tourism on the guideline. In response to subsequent queries from the IHF in relation to Tuesday’s announcement, the Department of Tourism informed it that the status quo [existing guidance] remained until clarification was received [in consultation with the Department of Health].”

The guidance at that time allowed for indoor gatherings of a maximum of 50 people including hotel staff and any other event support workers.

Multiple gatherings were allowed in venues as long as they were in separate defined spaces and there were systems to prevent intermingling in common spaces.

The IHF said that following the Department of Tourism update, it informed all hotels and guesthouses that the status quo remained pending updated guidance.

It said the interim guidance from Fáilte Ireland, in relation to gatherings and businesses serving food, including the restriction of gatherings to six people indoors and 15 people outdoors with weddings for up to 50 people including staff exempt, was received on Friday afternoon.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast