Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Green Party leader say EU Commissioner clearly broke coronavirus rules

Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Green Party leader say EU Commissioner clearly broke coronavirus rules

EU COMMISSIONER Phil Hogan is under further pressure to consider his position following the continued fall-out from the 'golfgate' controversy.

Having attended the 81 person indoor event in Clifden, Galway, it became apparent that Mr Hogan had been in Kildare twice-- a county under localised lockdown and which those living there should not leave except for essential business, which the Clifden dinner was not.

Mr Hogan had also been stopped by a Garda for driving while on his phone on one of his times in Kildare, an offence for which he received a caution.

Commissioner Hogan was told to make a timeline of his movements once he arrived in Ireland from Brussels for the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, following the backlash and continued revelations about his movements.

Commissioner Hogan did so, however while he wrote that he was playing golf in Limerick on 13 August, he failed to mention that he travelled to and stayed overnight in Limerick on 12 August-- the day before his mandatory 14-day quarantine ran out following his arrival from a country not on the green list.

The politician spoke to RTÉ yesterday evening in a televised interview, and told reporter Tony Connelly that he believed himself to have been within the public health guidelines at all times.

He had received a negative coronavirus test following his arrival in Dublin, he said, and therefore was told he was 'free to go' and travel anywhere in the country.

His visits to Kildare and onward were also all 'essential business', he insisted.

However, a negative coronavirus test does not give one permission to end quarantine early if they have come from a country not on the green list-- only if they are worried they have symptoms but have not left Ireland.

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan issued a statement following Commissioner Hogan's interview stating that while they welcome the explanation and apology for his attendance at the golf dinner, "concerns remain".

"It is clear that breaches of public health guidelines were made by Commissioner Phil Hogan since he travelled to Ireland," the three leaders wrote.

"The government guidelines clearly required him to restrict his movements for 14 days. He should also have limited his movements to and from Kildare for essential travel only, and he should not have attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner.

"People are correctly angered by these actions given the sacrifices so many have made to adhere to public health guidance.

“In addition, his delayed and hesitant release of information has undermined public confidence.”

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is to consider Phil Hogan's statement of movements and other 20-page document relating to his time in Ireland today.