Eyewitnesses surprised to spot Phil Hogan in public areas at K Club

‘He was out in an open restaurant among guests, sure that’s not staying in self-isolation’

Two eyewitnesses who saw EU commissioner Phil Hogan using public areas of the K Club have expressed surprise that he did not self-isolate for 14 days after returning from Brussels.

Government public health guidelines state that anyone returning from a country that is not on the green list must restrict their movements for 14 days after their arrival.

Mr Hogan claimed that he "self-isolated for the days up to the 5th of August" when he tested negative for Covid-19 at a medical appointment after he flew back into Ireland on July 31st.

HSE guidance does not state that a negative test shortens the 14-day restricted movement requirement. Belgium is not on the green list, compelling Mr Hogan to restrict his movements.

Mr Hogan has insisted that he did not breach any health guidelines.

The three coalition party leaders in Government said on Wednesday night, after Mr Hogan submitted a report on his movements, that “it is clear that breaches of public health guidelines were made by commissioner Hogan since he travelled to Ireland.”

July 31st

A Leinster woman told The Irish Times that she saw Mr Hogan dining with two other guests at the table behind her and her husband on the night of Friday, July 31st, the day he arrived in Ireland.

The couple were celebrating their wedding anniversary and dined in the restaurant of the K Club resort, Co Kildare, where Mr Hogan has a home, for two hours from about 8.30pm.

“He is saying that he was in lockdown until August 5th. He was out in an open restaurant, a public restaurant, among plenty of other guests. Sure that’s not staying in self-isolation,” she said.

The woman said Mr Hogan and the two other men sat at a “big round table” behind her and her husband, and that the restaurant was “very well set up” to manage social distancing safely.

She said she is “totally surprised” that he is now claiming that he abided by public health guidance and that he self-isolated when he was openly dining out in a public restaurant.

“He is beating around the bush by saying that between the 31st and the 5th he stayed in his residence in Kildare,” she said.

“I am surprised that other people have not come forward. It was just blatant.”

Mr Hogan’s spokesman offered no comment about the July 31st dinner.

Another woman, Niamh Duffy who is from Co Cork, said that she stayed at the K Club with her husband and three children the first week of August.

She said that she saw Mr Hogan meeting two others, a man and a woman, in the bar of the resort on Thursday, August 6th. She expressed concerns that he did not self-isolate during the 14-day restricted movement period after travelling from a non-green list country.

Public figure

“I was disappointed that a public figure like himself who more than anybody should know and understand the rules around self-isolation and social distancing, that he should have been, like everyone else, adhering to those guidelines,” said Ms Duffy.

“Self-isolating means that you stay in your home for two weeks and don’t leave. People deliver your food to you. He shouldn’t have been in a setting where other people were circulating.”

She said she also spotted him on another occasion in the breakfast room of the K Club used by other guests during her stay at the Co Kildare golf resort.

Ms Duffy said that she knows people who have returned to Ireland from abroad and who have had to organise separate housing in order to stay away from their families because of Covid-19.

“A lot of people have made a lot of effort to self-isolate coming into the country. It seems strange that he did not see fit to protect the Irish people,” she said.

“He was looking after number one.”

Mr Hogan’s spokesman did not respond to queries from The Irish Times about his movements at the K Club during August 6th and 7th.

In a detailed statement to the EU Commission, published on Wednesday, Mr Hogan said he returned “briefly” to his “temporary residence in Co Kildare” on Thursday, August 6th, after being discharged from hospital.

He said he travelled to Kilkenny before the local lockdown rules came into effect on midnight in Co Kildare on August 7th.

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent

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