Coalition parties will be left red-faced if Hogan hangs on to EU Commissioner job
Phil Hogan’s fate lies in the hands of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
The powerful German politician was last night considering the Irish Commissioner’s explanation for his attendance at the now-infamous Oireachtas Golf Society dinner – and how he got there via a locked-down Co Kildare.
One thing is for sure – if Mr Hogan does manage to hang on to his €350,000-a-year job it will be highly embarrassing to the Irish Government after Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar called on him to “consider his position”.
Fianna Fáil MEP warns of “damage” if Hogan goes as Commissioner
FIANNA Fáil MEP Barry Andrews has warned of the “strategic damage” that could be caused if Commissioner Phil Hogan leaves the job due to the ‘golf-gate’ controversy.
Mr Andrews is hosting an event next week that’s due to feature Mr Hogan as a key note speaker.
He publicised the event on social media this afternoon despite senior members of his party calling for Mr Hogan to resign amid the storm over his attendance at the infamous Oireachtas Golf Society dinner last week.
Mr Andrews has been planning an online seminar entitled Ireland’s Contribution to the Trade Policy Review’ since July.
Fianna Fáil junior minister Robert Troy is also listed as taking part in the event along with other speakers.
Mr Andrews this evening told Independent.ie that Mr Hogan is the Trade Commissioner and “so long as he is, we welcome his contribution.”
Asked if he believed Mr Hogan should resign – Mr Andrews said he is “very critical” of Mr Hogan’s attendance at the golf dinner and that he claimed was his “slow apology” and “lack of detail” in his statements on the matter.
But he added: “I would also have concerns about the strategic damage that would be done if we lost a second term Commissioner with a powerful portfolio.”
Mr Andrews said that within the constraints of the Commission’s duties to the EU as a whole “It’s still a very powerful role for Ireland to hold particularly this side of Brexit.”
He said “I wouldn’t be outright calling for his resignation. But I do think he has more questions to answer and I would agree with Micheál Martin that he should… answer questions directly.”
Mr Andrews took to Instragram to publicise his trade seminar today.
He wrote: “I am delighted to be hosting an interactive webinar on ‘Ireland’s Contribution to the Trade Policy Review’… with key note speakers, EU Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan, Minister for Trade Promotion Robert Troy and Professor Michelle Egan.”
He encouraged people to register for the event which is under the banner of Renew Europe – Fianna Fáil’s political grouping in the European Parliament.
At the weekend Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Fine Gael leader and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar called for Mr Hogan to “consider his position” over his attendance at the now infamous Oireachtas Golf Society dinner.
Earlier today Fianna Fáil ministers Darragh O’Brien and Thomas Byrne heaped pressure on Mr Hogan.
Mr O’Brien told RTÉ that Mr Hogan should resign and said: “The commissioner needs to realise how rightly people are so angry about this event and his participation in it.”
European Affairs Minister Thomas Byrne claimed Mr Hogan has offered “unclear answers” on his attendance at the golf dinner and his travel to Kildare which is under lockdown restrictions.
He argued on LMFM Radio that this “damages confidence” in politics and in the European Union and said that European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen must consider this.
Ms Von Der Leyen is currently assessing a report prepared for her by Mr Hogan on his attendance at the golf dinner.
Her spokesperson said today that the Commission President is seeking “further clarifications” from Mr Hogan.