EU commissioner Phil Hogan facing questions over attending golf event

Calleary resigns as Minister for Agriculture over event that may have breached Covid-19 regulations

EU commissioner Phil Hogan is facing questions over attending a golf event that has sparked controversy and the resignation of Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary on Friday morning.

The event in Cliften, Co Galway, was attended by more than 80 people and may have breached Covid-19 regulations.

Mr Hogan, the former Fine Gael minister attended and won a prize, according to sources.

Mr Calleary and Cabinet colleagues significantly tightened nationwide coronavirus restrictions on Tuesday – including limiting indoor gatherings to just six people.


The Irish Examiner reported that on the next night, 81 people, including current and former politicians, attended a dinner hosted by the Oireachtas golf society in a hotel.

Mr Hogan, Ireland’s representative on the European Union’s executive, attended the event, RTÉ quoted a representative for the commissioner as saying.

Mr Hogan’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Irish Independent newspaper also quoted a spokesman for Mr Hogan as saying the commissioner complied fully with all quarantine and restricted movement requirements on his return to Ireland.

Visitors from most EU countries, including Belgium, are required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in Ireland under some of the strictest travel restrictions in the bloc.

Mr Calleary apologised on Thursday night for attending the event and resigned as Minister for Agriculture this morning.

A version of the apology statement on Mr Calleary’s Twitter account received almost 2,000 replies within two hours, many from people angry that they were unable to attend funerals because of the restrictions or had to cancel holidays or weddings.

The Irish Examiner quoted a spokesman from the County Galway Station House Hotel, where the event was held, as saying it was told by the hotel sector’s representative body that until guidance on the new restrictions was available, the dinner would adhere to guidelines if fewer than 50 people dined in adjoining rooms.

The two sets of diners were divided by a removable partition, the spokesman said. – Reuters