Phil Hogan has resigned as Ireland’s European Commissioner in the wake of the debate over his breaches of public safety restrictions in Ireland.
Recently, Mr Hogan attended the Oireachtas Golf Society event in Clifden, with 80 others, and his movements to and from the controversial event while coronavirus restrictions remained in place have actually been under examination.
Mr Hogan had come under increasing pressure after he was asked to offer an account of his movements while in Ireland by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The departure means Ireland will need to nominate a new commissioner to replace Mr Hogan. It is uncertain whether Ireland will retain the key trade portfolio, as this is at the discretion of Dr von der Leyen, who may choose to reshuffle her commissioners.
In a declaration on Wednesday night, Mr Hogan said the debate was becoming an interruption from his work as an EU Commissioner and would undermine it in the crucial months ahead
” I deeply regret that my trip to Ireland– the nation that I have actually been so proud to represent as a public servant for the majority of my adult life – triggered such concern, worry and upset. I have constantly tried to abide by all appropriate Covid-19 guidelines in Ireland and had comprehended that I had met all appropriate public health guidelines, especially following confirmation of a negative Covid-19 test.
” I restate my heartfelt apology to the Irish people for the mistakes I made during my check out. The Irish individuals have made amazing efforts to contain the coronavirus, and the European Commission will continue to support you, and all EU member states, in defeating this awful pandemic.”
He likewise said he acknowledges the destructive impact of Covid-19 on people and families.
” I totally comprehend their sense of hurt and anger when they feel that those in public service do not meet the requirements expected of them.
In an interview on the RTÉ Nine O’Clock News, Mr Hogan declined to be drawn on concerns over his treatment.
It is a “matter for another day” regarding whether he got due process from the Federal government, he said.
He stated it “didn’t cross my mind today” regarding whether Ireland will retain the crucial trade portfolio.
In a joint statement, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Celebration leader Eamon Ryan said they acknowledge the resignation of Mr Hogan.
” While this must have been a hard choice for him personally, our company believe that it is the right course of action given the situations of the past week. All of us have a duty to support and follow public health guidelines and guidelines,” they stated. “We all need to persevere in our efforts versus Covid- 19.”
The statement stated the Government would think about Mr Hogan’s replacement “in due course”.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Taoiseach said Mr Hogan had actually “weakened the whole approach to public health in Ireland” but stopped short of saying he did not believe in the EU trade commissioner.
Stopping brief of stating that he does not have confidence in Mr Hogan, Mr Martin said “the commissioner is liable to the Commission, not to the Oireachtas and not the Federal government”.
Separately, Mr Ryan stated the administration had lost confidence in Mr Hogan because of the lack of immediate transparency and communication from him.
Meanwhile, Dr von der Leyen said in a declaration that she “aspects” Mr Hogan’s decision.
” Commissioner Phil Hogan has sent his resignation. I respect his decision. I am extremely grateful to him for his vigorous work as a Trade Commissioner considering that the start of this mandate and for his successful term as Commissioner in charge of Agriculture in the previous College. He was an important and respected member of the College. I wish him all the best for the future.”
On Tuesday, Mr Hogan provided a lengthy explanation of his attendance at the questionable Oireachtas golf supper and a timeline of his motions in the period preceding the event.
He once again apologised for his attendance at the occasion, but insisted he did not break any health standards– stating a negative Covid test excused him from quarantining after arriving here from Belgium and exemptions for essential work implied he was permitted to break the local lockdown in Co Kildare.
Mr Hogan said it was there in “black and white” on the People Details website that anybody who has had a negative result in a Covid-19 test was no longer needed to self-isolate. The Department of Health disputed this, saying that this did not apply to individuals getting here in the nation, who were needed to complete their duration of quarantine despite a negative test.
In addition, eyewitnesses came forward to say that in the week after his arrival in Ireland he had actually not been separating, but rather had been utilizing the public restaurant, bar and library of the K Club hotel and golf resort in Co Kildare, where he has an apartment.
The HSE and Citizens Information issued declarations stating that all incoming visitors from non-Green List countries need to stay in self seclusion for 14 days even if they test negative for Covid-19, opposing Mr Hogan’s validation for interrupting his quarantine.
Questions about Mr Hogan controlled a Brussels interview hosted by European Commission spokesperson Dana Spinant on Wednesday.
The trade commissioner sent a timeline of his motions to Dr von der Leyen that was quickly cast doubt on as new information emerged about his whereabouts, and the HSE and Citizens Info service denied his analysis of coronavirus guidelines.
” The president is studying carefully the report that was submitted by Commissioner Hogan yesterday,” Ms Spinant told journalists, explaining the matter as “a serious one”.
” The president is in contact with Commissioner Hogan about it. On the other hand, we have actually remembered of the declaration by Irish authorities.”
The Commission spokeswoman stated that according to their details, Mr Hogan had actually adhered to Belgium’s two-week quarantine commitment on his return from Ireland this weekend and emphasised it was necessary for all officials to follow the rules.
In a statement on Tuesday night, the leaders of the 3 Federal government parties stated that “issues stay” about Mr Hogan’s motions after arriving in Ireland last month and the manner in which he has explained them.
Other aspects of Mr Hogan’s description have also been called into doubt. Mr Hogan dined in a public dining establishment at the K Club on the night he flew into Ireland from Brussels last month, according to a lady who saw him in the restaurant.
The female, who did not wish to be called, informed The Irish Times that Mr Hogan dined with two other guests at the table behind her and her partner on the night of Friday, July 31 st.
” We were there for our wedding anniversary; he was seated at the table behind us with 2 other gentlemen,” she stated.
The discoveries weaken Mr Hogan’s claims on Tuesday that he flew into Ireland on July 31 st and “self-isolated for the days approximately the 5th of August”, when he checked negative for Covid-19 at a medical appointment in a Dublin hospital.
A spokesperson for Mr Hogan had no remark to make on the July 31 st dinner.
The lady who stated she sat at the table beside his that night stated she was “completely surprised” that Mr Hogan was now claiming that he followed public health guidelines.
Another lady, Niamh Duffy, from Co Cork, said she stayed at the K Club during the very first week of August and saw Mr Hogan using public areas of the resort when he should have been self-isolating.
The Irish Times has also discovered that Mr Hogan made a social visit to Co Roscommon on August 17 th that was not revealed in the schedule of his motions published by the European Commission.
It is comprehended Mr Hogan paid a social visit in the county on the day in which he took a trip from Co Kilkenny to Co Galway through Co Kildare.