The Boys are Back in Clifden, Balls and All, Four, Four, keep the Fucking, Heads Down, hold on, could be Wicklow, among the Sheep.

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Oireachtas Golf Society to tee off this summer for first time since infamous ‘Golfgate’ dinner

 12th May 2022

THE Oireachtas Golf Society will tee off again this summer for the first time since the infamous ‘Golfgate’ dinner after holding its annual general meeting in Leinster House this week.

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The society has organised its first post-pandemic outing for the Captain’s Prize at Tulfarris Golf Club in Blessington, Co Wicklow, on July 21, which will be nearly two years on from the controversial society-organised dinner in Clifden, Co Galway, which took place while Covid-19 restrictions were in place and led to several high-profile resignations.

“This is a very special year in which we hope to have two or three outings this year to celebrate the independence of our country,” former Fianna Fáil senator Donie Cassidy, the society’s outgoing president and new secretary, confirmed last night.

The society held its AGM in Leinster House on Tuesday night.

The dinner caused major controversy at the time given there were Covid-related restrictions in place. The fallout led to the resignation of agriculture minister Dara Calleary from Cabinet, while it also contributed to the exit of former European Commissioner Phil Hogan who faced questions over his movements around Ireland in the days leading up to the dinner.

RTÉ also abandoned plans to have broadcaster Seán O’Rourke host a new weekend show over his attendance.

Mr Cassidy said the society would “absolutely” continue to operate with the Oireachtas name.

This comes despite Dáil Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl requesting two days after the dinner in August 2020 that the society “as it is currently structured and named be wound up as a matter of urgency” in the wake of the controversy.

But Mr Cassidy told Independent.ie: “The courts have issued their findings. It was a strong judgment so we continue as we were. The courts have completely and totally exonerated us of any wrongdoing. It never was disbanded.”

He said the society had done “tremendous work” over the years and had in the past facilitated good relations between Irish and British parliamentarians at the height of the Troubles.

In acquitting the four men who stood trial over the Golfgate dinner earlier this year, District Court Judge Mary Fahy determined that the event, which was attended by 81 people in a room separated by a floor-to-ceiling partition, was in compliance with public health rules at the time that allowed for up to 50 people to gather in two distinct areas.

The attendance of Supreme Court Justice Séamus Woulfe led to an unprecedented judicial stand-off between the former attorney-general and his boss, then chief justice Frank Clarke, who told Mr Woulfe he should resign in the wake of his attendance and subsequent defence of his actions.

However, Mr Woulfe declined to do so. Mr Clarke has since retired from the court.

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