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summons lodged Two politicians to be prosecuted for infamous Golfgate dinner

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Independent TD Noel Grealish

Independent TD Noel Grealish

Independent TD Noel Grealish

Two politicians who allegedly organised the infamous Golfgate dinner will be charged with breaches of Covid-19 regulations.

Gardaí are prosecuting four people for arranging the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner, which caused massive political fallout.

The penalty for the breaches are a fines of up to €2,500 and up to six months in prison.

Former Fianna Fáil TD Donie Cassidy and Independent TD Noel Grealish will be summonsed before a Co Galway district court in relation to allegations that they organised the event.

Mr Cassidy was the chairman of the society and Mr Grealish was the president.

The two other people to be prosecuted are not public figures and were involved in the organisation of the dinner at the management at the hotel in Clifden, Co Galway.

A Garda spokesman confirmed: “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 ach 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.

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Former Fianna Fáil TD Donie Cassidy

Former Fianna Fáil TD Donie Cassidy

Former Fianna Fáil TD Donie Cassidy

The Garda criminal investigation into the infamous Golfgate dinner was completed last month and a file has been sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

The investigation centred on whether more than 50 people attended the event.

The 80 guests at the dinner were split into separate partitioned areas in order to be categorised as separate gatherings, which were permitted.

However, Gardaí investigated both the organisers of the golf event dinner in Galway and management at the Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway.

Several of the politicians who attended the event were also interviewed by Gardaí.

Although the event took place in August, some of those in attendance were only being questioned towards the end of last year.

A number of guests were given the option of making a statement in writing or in person to Gardaí.

The attendance at the event included a Cabinet minister, a European Commissioner, a Supreme Court judge and several TDs and Senators.

The investigation conducted by local gardaí in Galway focused on potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations and the organisation of the event.

The political fallout from the event saw the resignation of then Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary and six Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Senators losing the party whip.

Those six Senators were readmitted to their respective parliamentary parties by Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last week.

Former Fianna Fáil TD Donie Cassidy, one of the alleged organisers of the event, resigned as the party’s vice-president.

Then European Commissioner Phil Hogan also resigned from office following further controversy over his travels across the country.

Supreme Court Justice Seamus Woulfe, the former Attorney General, came under intense pressure to resign his position. Justice Woulfe is currently sitting out a period before taking up his place on the bench and offered to surrender his salary for a period.

However, a probe into Mr Woulfe’s case by former Chief Justice Susan Denham found there was no breach of the law in attending the event.

The organisers reassured those attending that the Covid-19 regulations were complied with and the hotel was using the guidelines for reopening hotels and guesthouses from June 2020 from the Government, Fáilte Ireland and Irish Hotels Federation, which applied on August 19 when the event took place.

The Denham report also provided details on the layout of the rooms where the dinner took place and the partioning of the venue to separate the guests into two different groups of under 50.

The Government had decided to tighten the Covid-19 restrictions the previous day with indoor events reduced from 50 people to just six people.

However, those regulations had not yet legally come into effect yet.

This week Mr Calleary told Virgin Media that he does not expect any personal charges in relation to the Golfgate dinner.

“I absolutely regret and apologise for having attended it. I regret the anger and the hurt, particularly, the hurt that I caused by attending,” Mr Calleary said.

“We’ll let the DPP decide. And one thing I’ve learned from last year is to take one day at a time,” he added.

Those six senators were readmitted to their respective parliamentary parties by Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar in January.

Former Fianna Fáil TD Donie Cassidy, one of the organisers of the event, resigned as the party's vice-president.

Then-European Commissioner Phil Hogan also resigned from office following further controversy over his travels across the country.

Mr Hogan said he did not break any law but he "should have been more rigorous" in adherence to the Covid guidelines.

"I reiterate my heartfelt apology to the Irish people for the mistakes I made during my visit," he added.

Supreme Court Justice Séamus Woulfe resisted intense pressure to resign.

On Monday, Mr Justice Seamus Woulfe sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham, one of the judges he has accused of subjecting him to an "upsetting and traumatic" ordeal following the 'golfgate' controversy last year.

It was his first public hearing since Chief Justice Frank Clarke told him last November that, as a result of his attending a golf event that the chief justice felt had breached public guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19, he would not be listed to sit until February 2021.

Gardai previously said they would probe the dinner under alleged breaches of The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A-Temporary Restrictions) (COVID-19) (No.3) Regulations 2020.

Under these regulations at the time the law stated that no more than 50 people could attend an indoor event.

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