Mr Calleary and EU commissioner Phil Hogan were among the guests at an Oireachtas Golf Society event in a hotel in Clifden, Co Galway last night.
Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer also attended, along with independent TD Noel Grealish, Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe, and former RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke.
The Irish Examiner reported that 81 people were at the dinner, with guests split into two separate rooms.
In a statement this evening, the Agriculture Minister said: “In light of the updated public health guidance this week I should not have attended the event.
“I wish to apologise unreservedly to the public, from whom we are asking quite a lot at this difficult time. I also offer this apology and my sincere regret to my government colleagues.”
It’s understood Mr Calleary has also apologised to the Taoiseach, and he has contacted the leaders of Fine Gael and the Green Party.
Mr Buttimer has also apologised, saying he is “mindful of the tremendous effort made by everyone since March to try and beat the virus”.
He said his attendance was a “lapse of judgement”.
Earlier, acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said: “Clearly in the context of the guidance that’s come out this week, we would not want 80 people gathering inside any event.”
Dr Glynn was asked at this evening’s news conference with the National Public Health Emergency Team if it was a breach to hold a function with 80 people in two separate rooms.
He said he would not comment on specific cases and he did not know the detail of it.
However, he added that public health officials were asking people to be sensible and responsible.
“We need as a country to massively cut down the level of congregation to get the virus suppressed.”
The Oireachtas Golf Society event was held at the Station House hotel in Clifden.
The hotel’s General Manager, James Sweeney, said that under no circumstances would he jeopardise the safety of the hotel and those attending for the sake of “a few quid”. He said he was assured that the event did not breach guidance.
Mr Sweeney said he checked with the Irish Hotels Federation and was told that the function would be compliant if those attending were in two separate rooms with fewer than 50 people in each.
One room seated 45 people, with a partition separating them from 36 people in another room.
Mr Sweeney said that following Tuesday’s announcement from government tightening restrictions, the IHF confirmed again on Wednesday morning that the status quo remained in terms of current operational practice for hotels.
The IHF said this was because the Department of Tourism had not received any further guidance on the changes.
EU Commissioner Phil Hogan and RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke also attended 80-strong golf dinner with minister
IRELAND’S EU Commissioner Phil Hogan and former RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke were among over 80 people who attended an Oireachtas Golf Society dinner, it can be revealed.
The EU’s Commissioner for Trade and the long-time radio presenter were at the dinner on Wednesday night alongside Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary who has since apologised for attending the event.
Mr O’Rourke confirmed he was at the dinner saying it was his understanding “the organisers had satisfied themselves through the hotel that they were operating within guidelines”.
A spokesman for Phil Hogan confirmed on Thursday night that the Commissioner attended the dinner and added: “I can confirm that the Commissioner complied fully with all quarantine/restricted movement requirements on his return to Ireland.”
The dinner followed a two-day golf tournament in Galway but sources who took part said there was no formal indoor gathering on the first night of the event.
The Oireachtas Golf Society dinner was held just over 24 hours after Mr Calleary and his Cabinet colleagues agreed to implement stringent Covid-19 restrictions which banned any indoor gathering of more than six people.
Mr Calleary apologised “unreservedly” to the public and to his Government colleagues after admitting he was one of a number of current and former TDs and Senators who attended a dinner at hotel in Galway last night.
Mr Calleary confirmed he attended the dinner organised by the Oireachtas Golf Society to mark its 50th anniversary in the Station House Hotel, Clifden, Co Galway. The dinner followed a two-day golf tournament for the society captain’s and president’s prizes which took place at the nearby Connemara Golf Club. A number of current and former Oireachtas members participated in the golf tournament.
The dinner had between 60 to 80 attendees split across a partitioned function room at the hotel. The function was organised by the society’s president, former Fianna Fáil senator Donie Cassidy, with the event honouring the late former Fianna Fáil MEP Mark Killilea.
Mr Calleary, who was a family friend of Mr Killilea, is understood to have told the organisers he would speak at the event as long as it was within public health guidance. A source said there were no more than six people at his table.
However, the official guidance on all mass gatherings signed off by the Cabinet, of which Mr Calleary is a member, on Tuesday is that no more than six people from no more than three households can attend indoor gatherings or events. Only weddings are exempt from this guidance where up to 50 people can attend.
Mr Calleary said in a statement: “Last night I attended a function I committed to a number of weeks ago, having been asked to pay tribute to a person I respected and admired greatly.
“In light of the updated public health guidance this week I should not have attended the event. I wish to apologise unreservedly to the public, from whom we are asking quite a lot at this difficult time. I also offer this apology and my sincere regret to my government colleagues.”
Fine Gael Senator and Seanad Leas Cathaoirleach Jerry Buttimer also apologised for attending.
“In light of the updated public health advice, I should not have attended. I apologise for this, in doing so I am mindful of the tremendous effort made by everyone since March to try & beat this virus, flattening the curve by adhering to public health advice and lockdown measures,” he said.
“This was a lapse of judgement on my part for which I sincerely apologise,” he added.