Ireland’s prime minister and deputy minister asked European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, Ireland’s representative on the EU’s executive, to resign for attending a party in violation of COVID-19 restrictions.
The Irish politician was stopped by police last week when he was using a telephone while driving. He escaped only with a reprimand. He was later found to be on his way to a party that was not following anti-coronavirus measures. The President of the European Commission asks for an explanation, and the Irish Prime Minister has called on him to consider remaining in office.
“While traveling through County Kildare, he was stopped by a police officer because he was using his mobile phone while driving,” said Hogan’s spokesman, confirming reports from the Irish media. According to him, the police officer reprimanded the European Commissioner and let him continue driving.
A police officer stopped Hogan shortly before the EU commissioner went to a party at a hotel. Golf club events have been shaking the Irish political scene in recent days. It has been shown to have been in breach of the rules adopted to combat the coronavirus spread.
Although a maximum of 50 people is now allowed in Ireland, more than 80 people have gathered at the Clifden Hotel. Among them were several Irish politicians. Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary and Senate Vice-President Jerry Buttimer have already resigned.
When the Irish are often unable to attend funerals and cancel weddings or holidays due to strict measures, Hogan has earned harsh criticism for attending the party. On Friday, he said that he arrived at the event in the belief that everything was following government rules. The information that he committed a traffic offense added to the pressure to resign.
Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin and Hogan’s Deputy Prime Minister and chairman Fine Gael Leo Varadkar have already called on the European Commissioner to consider whether he will remain in office.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen asked Hogan to give her a detailed report on what had happened.
Hogan’s spokesman told the Irish public station RTÉ that the European commissioner was not considering resignation on Monday. On Sunday, he apologized again for attending a gala dinner in Clifden.
In Ireland, which has a population of 4.9 million, almost 28,000 people have been infected with coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University in the United States, and 1,777 patients have died with COVID-19.
The peak of the country’s epidemic was recorded in April, while in June and July, thanks to stringent measures, the number of infected people was in the order of several tens per day. Since the end of July, however, the number of people with a positive test has increased again. As a result, some rules were tightened again last week.