Wed, 17 Feb, 2021 – 18:01
Two politicians who allegedly organised the infamous Oireachtas Golf Society dinner are to be charged over alleged breaches of health regulations.
Four people are to be prosecuted for arranging the event, which included a dinner attended by over 80 people just a day after public health restrictions were tightened to limit indoor gatherings to six people.
A garda investigation was launched after the event which was first revealed in the Irish Examiner last August.
It’s understood former Fianna Fáil TD Donie Cassidy and Independent Galway TD Noel Grealish are to appear before a Co Galway district court in relation to allegations that they organised the gathering.
It’s believed the two other people to be prosecuted are not public figures or attendees, but were involved in the organisation of the dinner at the Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway.
A statement from the Gardai said: “An Garda Síochána has received directions from the DPP in relation to the prosecution of four individuals for organising an event in contravention of health regulations at a commercial premises in Galway in August 2020.
“Summons have been lodged with the Courts, and District Court dates in relation to each of the individuals are awaited. An Garda Síochána will not be commenting further.”
The health regulations in question are Section 31A(6)(a) and (12) of the Health Act 1947, as amended by Section 10 of the Health Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2020. The penalty for the breaches are fines of up to €2,500 and up to six months in prison.
A number of attendees spoke with Gardaí in the weeks after the event to explain their presence there, including former Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary.
The Golfgate dinner, involving over 80 people, led to public uproar, occurring just one day after authorities had tightened Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings.
The number of people allowed to attend indoor gatherings was reduced from 50 to six, with some exceptions.
The fall out from the event was seismic and saw Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary swiftly resign from his role in cabinet, while four other Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael senators lost the party whip, which has since been reinstated.
EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan was also forced to resign for his attendance, and former Attorney General and now-Supreme Court Justice Seamus Woulfe went through a highly publicised process in which he was encouraged to step down before refusing and managing to hold onto his seat on the bench.
The Oireachtas Golf Society has since been disbanded. It’s understood former Fianna Fáil TD Donie Cassidy and Independent Galway TD Noel Grealish are to appear before a Co Galway district court in relation to allegations that they organised the event. File picture: Collins Photos