European Commission says Golfgate not the only reason for Hogan’s resignation

Phil Hogan is said to feel aggrieved for losing his job as EU trade commissioner, following a court ruling that dismissed all charges against those accused of hosting the Golfgate dinner.

Mr Hogan was the most high-profile politician to lose his job following the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden, and his resignation in August 2020 was seen as a blow to Ireland’s influence in Brussels, because trade is a powerful portfolio and it has been considered a heavyweight within the European Commission.

Allies of Mr Hogan have suggested the decision casts a bad light on the administration of commission chair Ursula von der Leyen for failing to back the former Fine Gael minister in August 2020 as pressure mounted on alleged breaches of Covid-19 rules.

At a press conference on Friday, an Italian journalist described the development as “quite embarrassing for the president” and asked if there would be an apology.

But the commission’s chief spokesman, Eric Mamer, stressed that the decision only affected the Golfgate dinner itself and suggested that various other actions by Mr Hogan had led to his ousting.

Relationships deteriorated

“I would like to remind you that the court’s decision relates to a specific event, a very specific event,” Mamer said. “I am not aware of any connection between this decision and any activities of the members of the commission, in particular Mr. Hogan, during this period.”

The commission first defended Mr Hogan after the Golfgate dinner was announced.

But relations with him deteriorated during a drip of new revelations that he had appeared in various places in Ireland during a 14-day quarantine period in which, as a traveler arriving from Brussels, he was submissive at the time.

Mr Hogan was asked by his boss to come clean by presenting a full itinerary of his travels, and trust was broken when that turned out to be incomplete, sources said.

Mr Hogan apologized for making mistakes after his resignation, but insisted he had not broken any laws. Sources close to him said he held the media responsible for the end of his political career.

When contacted for comment by The Irish Times, he said: “I have no comment for you, Naomi, and you should understand why.”

Mr Hogan has moved into consultancy work in the private sector since leaving the commission, offering business advice based on his experience in the commercial role and his previous stint as agriculture commissioner .

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