due process | 

Fine Gael TD says Phil Hogan has right to take case against European Commission

'If he was told to resign...the fact is he has an entitlement to have his case heard'

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

Phil Hogan has the right to take a case against the European Commission, following his resignation in the wake of the Golfgate controversy, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Bernard Durkan said the former European Commissioner who has suggested he may seek compensation over his resignation, has “an arguable case”.

The Kildare-North TD told the Hard Shoulder: "I don't want to second-guess the courts - but if he feels that he has an arguable case, he has the right to take the case.

"If he was told to resign - and I wasn't there at the time, I have no verification of that - but the fact is he has an entitlement to have his case heard."

Mr Hogan resigned back in August 2020 after days of increasing pressure following his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner.

At the time, he said: "I deeply regret that my trip to Ireland - the country that I have been so proud to represent as a public servant for most of my adult life - caused such concern, unease and upset."

However, a court in Galway later dismissed all charges against four people accused of breaching lockdown laws by organising the event in the Station House Hotel in Clifden.

In an interview with French newspaper Libération, Mr Hogan said he had not ruled out taking action against the European Commission.

The report also noted that Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has refused to apologise to Mr Hogan over the incident.

Deputy Durkan said that if Mr Hogan had been told to resign he has an entitlement to have his case heard.

He also argued that "due process and natural justice" are missing in some situations.

"People will say that the court of public opinion has to be faced: public opinion unfortunately can be wrong.

"In fact it has been wrong and proved to be wrong on a number of occasions.

"Where the individual is wronged and perceived to be wronged, and determined to be wronged by the courts, I think that the individual has a right to protection and a right to compensation".

Citing examples such as Alan Shatter and Frances Fitzgerald, he added: "They were condemned to have done some wrong by people in the House and outside the House - who didn't have any information other than hearsay.

"They were deemed to have not done their duty or have done something that was against the law.

"They were ultimately proven not to have done anything that breached the law, and as such would be entitled to recompense."

Mr Durkan said "arbitrary court martial" by the public can't be allowed to happen.

"The general idea is that the public by way of arbitrary court martial don't have any right to say, 'I have lost confidence in you, you're gone'.

"Due process and natural justice haven’t prevailed and hasn't been allowed to prevail.

"There is in this country, in recent times, growing incidence of people arbitrarily deciding that somebody else has done wrong, even though they don't know.

"We can't have a situation where kangaroo courts make decisions."

Asked if he believes Mr Hogan did wrong, Deputy Durkan says: "I don't know, I wasn't there and it wasn't tested in court.

"He came forward and he said that he broke no law."

Put to him by host Kieran Cuddihy that Mr Hogan broke guidelines, Mr Durkan replied: "Guidelines are not the law."

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