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EU boss will take 'other information sources' into account in assessing Phil Hogan’s fate

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Brian Lawless/PA)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Brian Lawless/PA)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Brian Lawless/PA)

EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, has signalled that she will take other information sources into account – as well as the information supplied by Phil Hogan – when assessing his case.

A spokesperson for the EU leader would not say when there will be a decision on the fate of the Irish Commissioner who has been scathingly criticised by his own Government who want him to quit.

The Government has rejected claims by Mr Hogan that he did not breach the Covid 19 regulations during his three-week visit to Ireland. The Irish authorities insist Mr Hogan should have isolated for a full 14 days on his return from Brussels where the virus rate is very high – and reject the Commissioner’s argument that a negative Covid test result had ended his isolation obligation.

Brussels officials said today that President von der Leyen and Commissioner Hogan had further contacts after he submitted a written report to her on his trip to Ireland. But her spokesman would not say when a decision on his fate will be announced.

It comes as Minister for Climate Action and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, labelled Golfgate a “scandal” and stated Phil Hogan failed to provide a “rapid” apology for breaching health guidelines.

However, Minister Ryan stated the Government couldn’t let the issue go, due to EU Commissioner’s Hogan’s failure to apologise immediately.

Minister Ryan told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland while the Irish Government fully accepted the decision over Mr Hogan’s future lay with European Commission President, Ursula von Der Leyen, it was vital they reiterated the public health stance here.

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Minister Eamon Ryan

Minister Eamon Ryan

Minister Eamon Ryan

The Connemara Oireachtas event had taken place in “the middle of a concern of a second wave, a spike,” Minister Ryan said.

The official regulation “was clear, we shouldn’t have large settings.”

Referring specifically to EU Commissioner Hogan, Minister Ryan said: “If one makes a mistake, particularly those in public office” that is was important “there is immediate transparency, particularly in this scandal, as it’s caused such a loss in confidence in the guidelines.”

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Mr Ryan said in these “circumstances” it was vital Mr Hogan provided “an immediate and rapid apology but it's the drip feed of regulations not being met.

“It is where our concerns remain.”

Mr Ryan said he would revert back to the statement the Taoiseach and Tanaiste had made in recent days, when they asked Mr Hogan consider his future as EU commissioner.

He agreed with the statement “because of the lack of immediate transparency.”

“Our loss of confidence is for fear of loss of public confidence in the public health guidelines.

“At the same time we respect European Treaty law and accountability. It is for the president of the European Commission (to decide Mr Hogan’s future.)

“We respect that decision ... but we felt it was important the clarity around the guidelines needed to be reasserted.”

Mr Ryan said Phil Hogan had broken health regulations “in three ways” when he attended the golfing event and moved around after travelling into the country.

“His actions, as he himself set out, are in breach of the guidelines,” Mr Ryan said.

“That is something people in public office have an obligation - to meet those guidelines.”

“If you're coming into the country… you should restrict your movements and not engage in social activities, as the Irish people knew when they restricted their movements.”

Earlier, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly called on Mr Hogan to "listen to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste" and consider resigning.

Minister Donnelly said Mr Hogan should "consider his position" as the impact of the golf event in Clifden, Co Galway, last week has "eroded people's confidence" in Covid-19 safety measures.

Speaking on the same programme, Mr Donnelly said: "What happened in Galway is an absolute disgrace. It is a slap in the face for every man woman and family who has made sacrifices in so many different ways.

"I believe the Commissioner [Phil Hogan] should listen to the Taoiseach and Tánaiste and I agree with their position that he should consider his position," Minister Donnelly said.

"As Minister for Health, I'm less interested in what happens for any one individual. What I have to focus on is making sure we are progressing this virus as well as we can.

"What really annoyed me about Galway is that it eroded people's confidence quite rightly, people were furious and they were right to be furious.

"My message is the virus hasn't gone away. We are at a tipping point in Ireland right now. We must do everything we can to avoid another national lockdown."


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