Phil Hogan stopped by gardaí for using his phone en route to Clifden

Phil Hogan Stopped By Gardaí For Using His Phone En Route To Clifden Phil Hogan Stopped By Gardaí For Using His Phone En Route To Clifden
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Updated at 21:51

Phil Hogan was stopped by the Gardaí while en route to Galway from Kilkenny, a spokesperson has confirmed.

The spokesperson says he was pulled over by a Garda for using his mobile phone.

It was also revealed that EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan stopped off in Kildare on his way to Clifden on August 17th.

Kildare was under lockdown at the time meaning those who were in the county were only allowed to leave or enter for essential reasons.

In a statement this evening, a spokesperson for Mr Hogan said:

"Having left Kildare on August 6th (before local lockdown rules were applied), the Commissioner travelled from Kilkenny to Clifden on August 17th.

"On the way, he stopped briefly at his apartment in Kildare for the purpose of collecting personal belongings and essential work documents (relating to EU/US trade negotiations, which continued while he was in Galway).


"The lockdown guidelines for Kildare provide for exceptional travel outside the county “to travel to work and home again."

This comes as Phil Hogan apologised a second time for the "unnecessary stress, risk and offence caused to the people of Ireland" following his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society event in Co Galway on Wednesday.

In a statement, Mr Hogan said: "I wish to apologise fully and unreservedly for attending the Oireachtas golf society dinner on Wednesday night last.

"I want, in particular, to apologise to the wonderful healthcare workers, who continue to put their lives on the line to combat Covid-19 and all people who have lost loved ones during this pandemic. I acknowledge my actions have touched a nerve for the people of Ireland, something for which I am profoundly sorry.

"I acknowledge that the issue is far bigger than compliance with rules and regulations and adherence to legalities and procedures. All of us must display solidarity as we try to stamp out this common plague."

Varadkar's comments

Speaking about the commissioner, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said he shared the public’s anger at the golf event. Speaking on RTÉ radio, he said he did not condone commissioner Hogan’s actions and such an event should not have taken place. “The apology helps, it would have been better if it had come sooner but it definitely helps, helps to account for himself and explain his own actions.


He said Mr Hogan may not have been as familiar with the coronavirus situation in Ireland because he was not based in the country. “I have confidence in his ability to do his job as trade commissioner and he has done a good job in that post so far.”

Mr Varadkar said once installed as a commissioner, a person did not take direction from their national government any more.

He told RTE: “It is our view that an apology is welcome but he also needs to account for himself and explain and answer any questions that might arise, not just in relation to the dinner but also his movements around the country.

“If he cannot do that he needs to consider his position.”

This is Mr Hogan's second apology regarding the event, having already issued a statement on Friday evening.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar wrote to Mr Hogan asking him to "consider his position".

Gardaí are investigating the gala dinner at a hotel in Clifden, Co Galway for alleged breaches of public health legislation.

Mr Hogan's statement today confirmed he had spoken to both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste about the matter and "listened carefully to their views".


He added: "I have been reporting to the President of the European Commission on all these matters in recent days."

This follows the agreement of Mr Martin, Mr Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan to ask for the Dáil to be recalled once the schools reopen this week.

A statement issued on their behalf said they will make the request to the Ceann Comhairle on Monday.

It comes as further questions were asked of the Oireachtas Golf Society to disclose the length of time more than 80 people were gathered at the dinner.

Under Covid-19 restrictions announced by Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar two weeks ago, restaurants were required to close at 11pm, with diners allowed only an hour and 45 minutes for their meals.

Revised restrictions announced last Tuesday – the night before the now infamous golf dinner – extended the closing time until 11.30pm, with table numbers capped at six people.

Restrictions state staff should be included when calculating maximum numbers, and with reports that there were one or two staff assigned to each table, it suggests the gathering was several multiples of the latest allowed number of six for indoor gatherings, and comfortably more than the previous cap of 50.

Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar have not spoken to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, who would have the power to remove Mr Hogan from office.

Mr Hogan’s appointment as Commissioner was ratified by the European Parliament after being nominated by the previous government.

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