EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan publishes report on Ireland trip

Phil Hogan has published details of his movements in Ireland while continuing to deny he broke health regulations in the country.

Mr Hogan provided 20 pages of documents to the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen after she requested further details of his trip home to Ireland earlier this month.

The EU Trade Commissioner said he believed he complied with public health regulations during his visit.

Mr Hogan was among the 81 guests who attended a controversial golf dinner in the west of Ireland.

Following a request from Ms von der Leyen, Mr Hogan published a timeline of his movements in Ireland in which he revealed he played golf in Adare, Co Limerick before returning to Kilkenny on August 13.

Mr Hogan returned to Ireland on July 31 and was required to restrict his movements for 14 days.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Brian Lawless/PA)
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (Brian Lawless/PA)

In the document published on the European Commission website, Mr Hogan said he tested negative for Covid-19 while in hospital on August 5 and claimed that therefore “ended the self-restriction period”.

Pressure has been building on Mr Hogan to step down from his EU role after he attended last week’s function.

Large social gatherings are discouraged in the country during the pandemic.

Mr Hogan is a senior Irish politician with significant standing in Brussels who would be deeply involved in any deal with Britain after Brexit.

In the latest statement, Mr Hogan said: “At the outset I fully accept that it is abundantly clear that the event should not have been held and that I should not have attended this dinner.

“I accept this and have made a full apology to the Irish people for having done so.

“I was an invited guest to the event on August 19 2020 and was assured by the organisers and the hotel that it was being held in full compliance with all relevant Covid-19 rules.

“I had no reason to question or doubt that assurance, particularly in circumstances where an Irish Government Minister was attending and speaking at the event.

“Again I now recognise that the event should not have proceeded and I should not have attended.”

Mr Hogan said he completed a passenger locator form on July 31 before travelling to Co Kildare where he stayed until he was admitted to a Dublin hospital on August 5 for a medical procedure.

It was during this overnight hospital stay that he tested negative for Covid-19 and after he was discharged from hospital on August 6, he “briefly” returned to his apartment in Co Kildare.

The following day he travelled to Kilkenny before the restrictions came into force in Kildare where he remained until August 12 when he travelled to Dublin to hold a meeting with Tanaiste Leo Varadkar as well as visiting the European Commission office.

The following day he said he played golf in Adare and returned to Kilkenny.

A general view of the gated community at the K Club golf course in Co Kildare where EU commissioner Phil Hogan has a home (Niall Carson/PA)
A general view of the gated community at the K Club golf course in Co Kildare where EU commissioner Phil Hogan has a home (Niall Carson/PA)

According to the document, he travelled from Kilkenny to Galway via Co Kildare on August 17.

He added: “I stopped briefly in Co Kildare at the property in which I had been staying for the purpose of collecting some personal belongings and essential papers relating to the ongoing negotiations with the USTR, Robert Lighthizer, which continued while I was in Co Galway.

“This culminated in an agreement on a package of tariff reductions on August 21.”

He spent the following five days in Galway before returning to Kildare on Friday August 21 to collect personal belongings, including his passport.

He said he and stayed there overnight to catch an early morning flight to his primary residence in Brussels from the nearby airport.

Police are investigating whether coronavirus regulations were broken in holding the Irish Parliament’s golf society event two days after the Government announced it intended to curb the numbers permitted to gather together.

The trade and former agriculture commissioner has also been urged to consider his position by the leaders of Ireland’s coalition Government, Micheal Martin and Mr Varadkar, after attending the dinner at a hotel in the west of Ireland.