astonishing attack | 

Phil Hogan accuses Leo Varadkar of plotting with Micheál Martin to oust him after Golfgate

Ex-EU commissioner criticises Taoiseach’s ‘populist streak’ and claims he failed to implement promises to the public

Phil Hogan


Former EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has launched a stinging attack on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who he accused of abandoning his principles after he was elected Fine Gael leader.

In an extraordinary new interview, Mr Hogan criticises the newly appointed Taoiseach’s “populist streak” and his failure to fulfil leadership campaign promises

He criticises his handling of the fall-out from the Oireachtas Golf Society controversy during the Covid pandemic which heaped pressure on Mr Hogan to resign as an EU trade commissioner.

He also accuses the Fine Gael leader of trying to “out-trump” the Opposition on “every policy position” and warned it “doesn’t always work with the electorate”.

Mr Hogan, who lost his role on the European Commission over the ‘Golfgate’ controversy, gave the scathing interview to former RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke, who also lost work because of the Covid controversy.

In the interview, which is a part of a series of RTÉ podcasts linked to the Two Tribes documentary about the history of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael due to air tonight, Mr Hogan set out a series of grievances he has with Mr Varadkar.

The long-time Fine Gael TD, who supported the Taoiseach’s 2017 leadership campaign, now says Mr Varadkar was just the “best available leader at the time”.

“He articulated the right policy propositions like ‘people getting up early in the morning and being rewarded for their hard work’, but unfortunately as soon as he became Taoiseach that has seemed to have been abandoned as a principle and we didn’t see in the subsequent budgets the manifestation of the implementation of what was promised at the time and that was a mistake,” Mr Hogan said.

Leo Varadkar

“Services like childcare were not invested in sufficiently well in order to allow the maximum participation of women in the workplace.

“He articulated the right priorities in 2017 but didn’t implement them sufficiently strong enough to resonate with the electorate and ultimately he paid a price in the 2020 election,” he added.

Mr Hogan said Mr Varadkar should have “taken a breather to regenerate and regroup and be a strong leading opposition party” rather than form a coalition with Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

He said politicians have to have “certain core values which are easily communicated” to voters.

Mr Hogan said he hoped Mr Varadkar’s reappointment as Taoiseach will help him “reconnect with the electorate” but questioned whether he can bounce back after “the people had decided that Fine Gael had been in government long enough”.

However, he added: “You have to understand the populist streak he has enunciated on many issues doesn’t always work with the electorate, and we see that in the polls and we see that in the election results.”

Mr Hogan said the Fine Gael leader has to show the people who get up early in the morning that he is “on their side”.

He added Mr Varadkar is “not necessarily” a disappointment but said he focused too much on the “aerial battle” of politics but “neglects the ground war” in constituencies.

Mr Hogan accused Mr Varadkar and Tánaiste Micheál Martin of launching a “campaign” to oust him as EU commissioner following the Oireachtas Golf Society controversy.

He said he “expected a process” from the Government leaders which would have allowed him to explain his actions which involved him driving around the country in the middle of a global pandemic when the majority of the public endured social distancing restrictions.

Mr Hogan said Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin followed a “populist wave of indignation” and did not “actually analyse anything”,

“I had meetings with the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste (that) were leaked to the media,” he said.

“When I was speaking to them we were talking about how we could explain what had happened and at the same time, they were writing a letter that was going to appear on the front page of the Sunday Independent, calling for my resignation effectively, or to consider my position as they put it,” he added.

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