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'difficult situation' Phil Hogan paid a ‘very heavy price’ for Golfgate fiasco, says Mairead McGuinness

Ireland’s European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness says her predecessor Phil Hogan's resignation was ‘a complicated situation’

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European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness with her predecessor Phil Hogan. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness with her predecessor Phil Hogan. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness with her predecessor Phil Hogan. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Ireland’s European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness says her predecessor Phil Hogan paid a “very heavy price” for the Golfgate controversy.

Mr Hogan broke his silence on his enforced resignation from his European role in an interview with the Irish Independent last weekend.

In the article published last Saturday, Mr Hogan claimed that “most fair-minded people” thought what happened was “disproportionate”.

His successor as EU Commissioner, Ms McGuinness, was asked about Mr Hogan’s remarks, and replied: “It is a complicated situation.

“Phil Hogan was an excellent commissioner and it is true he paid a very heavy price for the events of August.”

But she said: “I wasn’t party to any of those discussions so there is no way for me to judge beyond that.”

She added: “I trust Commission President Ursula von der Leyen‘s handling of the situation.

“It was an impossibly difficult situation for everyone involved.”

Mr Hogan’s resignation came after days of controversy and political pressure in Dublin and Brussels about his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society outing and dinner which took place in Clifden, Co Galway.

There were related questions about his movements while on holiday in Ireland during a time of tightened Covid-19 restrictions.

He said that, unlike Supreme Court judge Séamus Woulfe, he did not get a fair hearing or an opportunity to put forward his side of the various issues involved.

He noted Mr Justice Woulfe kept his job.

“I think most fair-minded people thought what happened was disproportionate, and that has been [seen] by the due process that was given to Justice Séamus Woulfe and the report that was done by Susan Denham,” Mr Hogan insisted.

“It would have been nice if I had got some kind of due process. When that was given to Séamus Woulfe, you can see full details were able to emerge.”

The process of formally appointing Ms McGuinness to the European Commission to replace Mr Hogan was completed in October.

Ms McGuinness said: “Covid-19 continues to take a heavy toll on people’s well-being and it is part and parcel of being a public figure that one is held to account.”

She added: “Phil lost his job, as did a member of the cabinet [Dara Calleary], and I’m sure they regret all that happened.

“In the atmosphere and the public reaction, Commissioner Hogan acknowledged he had made mistakes and took a decision to resign, which I respect and which reflects well on him.”

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