European Commissioner May Be Punished for Violation of COVID-19 Discipline

A party of members of a private golf club turned into a loud political scandal in Ireland. With more than 80 guests at the restaurant’s dinner – more than the government allowed – Irish Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary and Deputy Speaker of the Upper House of Parliament Jerry Buttimer, who attended the event, have already resigned. And now the future of another guest, Phil Hogan, who occupies one of the key posts in the European Commission, is under threat. He has already assured that he regrets his misconduct, but it is possible that such irresponsibility in a pandemic will still cost him his career.

An ill-fated dinner at a luxury hotel restaurant took place last Wednesday, with 81 or 82 guests attending the anniversary event at Dublin’s elite golf club, including Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary and Upper House Deputy Speaker Jerry Buttimer. But a couple of days later, the spotlight was on European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, a keen golfer. Now he can lose his current position because of « Golfgate », as the event is already called in the media.

Less than a day later, the Irish Examiner reported on the event. On the same day, Dara Calleary made a public apology and admitted that he should not have attended the event. But the scandal could not be extinguished.

Many Irish people resented that they had to cancel weddings or refuse to attend funerals, while the elite allow themselves to continue to have fun.

On Friday, Minister Calleary, as well as the deputy speaker of the upper house of parliament, Jerry Buttimer, resigned in regret for their participation in the celebration.

The intrigue now is whether the European Commissioner will resign as the opposition insists on this, emphasizing ethical considerations. Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin and Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar have already approached Mr. Hogan with a proposal to think about leaving. They had a conversation with the European Commissioner, during which they discussed the incident, and Mr. Hogan himself has already announced that he « deeply regrets » and « apologizes to those residents of Ireland, whose feelings he hurt with his behavior. »

However, the investigation of the misconduct is not yet complete. The opposition has already called for an emergency meeting of parliament in connection with the events. The current head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will also conduct its own internal investigation. She requested a report and additional clarifications from the European Commissioner. Formally, only she has the right to dismiss Mr. Hogan. However, making such a political decision will not be easy: the European Trade Commissioner, an experienced politician and economist who only recently refused to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO), is a key figure in Brussels’ trade and economic negotiations with London and Washington.


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