Big Phil defies HSE advice as travel row rages on
Statement puts more pressure on Hogan
Under-fire Commissioner Phil Hogan said he doesn’t accept HSE advice that people who travel here from high-risk countries must restrict their movements for 14 days – even if they test negative for Covid-19.
It comes as more details of Mr Hogan’s travel in recent weeks emerged.
His future as European Trade Commissioner still hangs in the balance amid the controversy over his attendance at an Oireachtas Golf Society outing in Galway.
Since the news emerged he had attended the event, there have been further revelations about Mr Hogan’s travel in Ireland – including to locked-down Co Kildare.
Last night, Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan released an extraordinary joint statement criticising Mr Hogan and saying it is clear his actions breached public health guidelines.
They welcomed his renewed apology but said “concerns remain”.
“It is clear that breaches of public health guidelines were made by Commissioner Phil Hogan since he travelled to Ireland,” they said in the statement.
“The Government guidelines clearly required him to restrict his movements for 14 days.
“He should also have limited his movements to and from Kildare for essential travel only, and he should not have attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner.
“People are correctly angered by these actions given the sacrifices so many have made to adhere to public health guidance.”
The statement added: “In addition, his delayed and hesitant release of information has undermined public confidence.”
They said Mr Hogan is accountable to the President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen, under the legal framework outlined in EU Treaties.
“The Government now awaits the outcome of the review being undertaken by the President. Ultimately the Commissioner is accountable to the EU Commission, not to the Irish Government or to the Oireachtas,” they added.
Last night, a defiant Mr Hogan claimed he was not required to quarantine for two weeks after he returned from Brussels on July 31 because he got the all-clear after a coronavirus test in the days after he arrived home.
This claim conflicts with HSE advice which says people travelling to Ireland from abroad must restrict their movements for 14 days even if they get a negative test result.
Mr Hogan was challenged on the issue on RTÉ’s Six One News and the HSE advice was put to him.
“My doctors tested me for Covid-19 and I was Covid free and I was no risk to anybody so I was free to go according to my medical people,” he said.
“I didn’t accept their word fully for that.
“I observed the Citizens Information website which is clear for anyone to see that I could go anywhere I wished to without being isolated because of the fact that I had a negative test.”
Pressed again on the HSE advice, Mr Hogan replied: “Well I don’t accept that.”
The Citizens Information Board last night responded to claims made by Mr Hogan.
A statement said the web page referred to by Mr Hogan in his claim that he did not need to restrict his movements does not relate to people who travel to Ireland from abroad.
Last night Mr Hogan’s spokesman refused to comment on two new details of Mr Hogan’s travel in Ireland.
These included a hotel stay and meal out in Adare, Co Limerick, on August 12, the night before he played golf at Adare Manor.
Mr Hogan’s quarantine period was not due to end until August 13.
Separately, it was revealed Mr Hogan made a social visit in Roscommon on August 17 en route to the golf event in Galway.
This was not disclosed in a timeline published by Mr Hogan yesterday.
In a memo to Ms von der Leyen, Mr Hogan insisted he complied with Irish Government Covid-19 regulations “at all times”.
He also said he regrets the incident where he was stopped by a garda in Co Kildare for driving while holding a mobile phone on the day he was en route to Galway.