Phil Hogan has 'no intention' of returning to politics after golfgate scandal

ireland
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Sarah Slater

Former EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan has “no intention” of returning to national and international politics after he slammed the government for subjecting him to “a full scale attack” in the wake of Golfgate.

Mr Hogan, resigned from his position two weeks ago, following his part in the infamous Golfgate incident in Clifden, Co Galway last month.

Mr Hogan apologised several times for his part for attending the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner held on August 19, as the political crisis engulfed the three party government.

It emerged that several prominent figures, including a government minister, senators, and a Supreme Court judge, breached official Covid-19 rules.

The Minister of Agriculture, Dara Calleary resigned his post after it emerged he had attended the dinner for 82 people which contravened regulations. The dinner was also attended by Senator Jerry Buttimer, the deputy chairperson of the Seanad who also stepped down.

An investigation into the attendance of Supreme Court justice and former Attorney General, Séamus Wolfe is continuing while gardai also carry out a probe into the holding of the event.

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In a statement to his local newspaper, the Kilkenny People, Mr Hogan reiterated that “he broke no law” and was subjected to “a full scale attack” by the government.

“The government had a full scale attack on my compliance or otherwise,” said Mr Hogan adding that he, “had no option but to resign because of the huge pressure from the Taoiseach (Micheál Martin, the Tanáiste (Leo Varadkar) and the media”.

Due process

The Taoiseach and Tanáiste called on the then EU Commissioner to consider his position in light of his dinner attendance and subsequent revelations into his travel arrangements.

“I didn’t get due process, unlike others. I am very disappointed that there was a huge effort concentrated on my resignation. I always feel like Irish people expect due process in the right forum. I didn’t get that. I wasn’t given that chance.”

The former Commissioner, who also in the past held the ministerial portfolios of Agriculture and Environment, said that his apology for the mistakes he made during his visit is sincere but highlighted that the Covid regulations are not compatible with the work of MEPs.

“The regulations that presently exist are not compatible with the work that MEPs do,” he said.

Since his high profile resignation the Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party led government are asking that the 14-day quarantine requirement be lifted for MEPs who receive a negative coronavirus test before leaving Brussels.

He added: “My life in public service after 38 years has come to an end. I am going to take some time out and reflect on what to do next.

“I worked closely to reduce the impact of Brexit on business and employment. It will be a challenge in the future and it will require a lot of vigilance from the Irish government.”

Mr Hogan plans to continue to base himself in Brussels while he continues to contemplate his future.

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