Former EU Commissioner May Seek Compensation for Golfgate Dinner Resignation


Former EU commissioner, Phil Hogan has not ruled out the notion of seeking compensation from the European Commission. Almost two years since his high-profile resignation, he has not distanced himself from the idea of seeking compensation for damages when quizzed yesterday on the matter.

Earlier seen as an influential Irish voice in Brussels during the Brexit negotiations, Hogan became ostracised amid controversy surrounding his attendance at the Oireachtas Golfgate party at Clifden, in 2020. Speaking at the time, he said, “I deeply regret that my trip to Ireland, the country that I have been so proud to represent as a public servant for most of my adult life, caused such concern, unease and upset.

Hogan continued: “I have always tried to comply with all relevant COVID-19 regulations in Ireland and had understood that I had met with all relevant public health guidelines, particularly following confirmation of a negative COVID-19 test.”

However, Mr Hogan has turned up in French newspaper, Liberation, which reported his latest comments on Monday. Speaking to the publication, Hogan said: “I was sitting next to the minister for Agriculture during this dinner; this person had taken part in the Government meeting where the new restrictions were decided.”

Galway East Independent TD Noel Grealish, former Fianna Fáil senator Donie Cassidy, John Sweeney and his son James Sweeney, who own the Station House Hotel, had all charges dismissed against them. Judge Mary Fahy dismissed charges of illegally holding the Oireachtas Golf Society event in August 2020 at Galway District Court earlier this month.

Speaking with PA news agency, a European Commission spokesperson said they would “refer you to the statements issued at the time by both the Commission president and Phil Hogan. We have nothing else to add.”

Within her statement at the time, Ursula von der Leyen said she was “very grateful” to Mr Hogan for his “tireless and successful work.” Following Hogan’s resignation, von der Leyen said, “I thank him warmly for his valuable contribution to the work of the commission, not only in this mandate but also in the previous mandate where he was the commissioner in charge of agriculture and rural development.

Over the past days, I discussed with Phil Hogan about his movements in Ireland in light of information that emerged regarding respect of public health guidelines in Ireland. In the current circumstances, as Europe fights to reduce the spread of the coronavirus and Europeans make sacrifices and accept painful restrictions, I expect the members of the College (of Commissioners) to be particularly vigilant about compliance with applicable national or regional rules or recommendations.”

Meanwhile, a press briefing this morning provided President von der Leyen’s spokesperson Eric Mamer with the subject in question. Mamer was repeatedly quizzed on claims in the Liberation article that Ms von der Leyen had asked Mr Hogan to resign.

According to Mamer, “Commissioner Hogan presented his resignation after discussions with the President after a period of days, and after that, declarations were published, and as we said last week, we don’t have anything to add to what was said at that time.

He added: “We are not in the habit of commenting on what was said or not said in internal meetings. You have the official statements both from Commissioner Phil Hogan and from President von der Leyen explaining the decision that was taken. I indeed have seen the statement, which was in the press today, but have no further information on this.