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EU Commissioner Phil Hogan asked to 'consider role' by Irish leaders

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image copyrightPA Media
image captionPhil Hogan attended an Irish parliamentary golf society event at a County Galway hotel on Wednesday

Ireland's political leaders have asked EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan to consider his position after he attended a dinner with more than 80 people.

Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Micheál Martin and his deputy Leo Varadkar believe Mr Hogan needs to "give a full account", national broadcaster RTÉ has reported.

The event came a day after tighter lockdown restrictions were announced.

Irish police are investigating if the dinner breached Covid-19 regulations.

Attendance at the event has led to two high-profile political resignations so far.

Former agriculture minister Dara Calleary and Jerry Buttimer, who was the leas-chathaoirleach (deputy chairman of the Irish senate), both stepped down from their roles after attending the event in County Galway.

As EU trade commissioner, Mr Hogan would lead free trade negotiations with the UK if and when they commence after Brexit.

However, on Thursday he found himself in the middle of a growing controversy over his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society event on Wednesday.

Mr Hogan issued an apology for being at the event, writing on Twitter that he attended "on the clear understanding that the organisers and the hotel concerned had been assured [by the Irish Hotels' Federation] that the arrangements put in place would be in compliance with the government's guidelines".

However, the Sunday Independent has reported that Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar want the EU trade commissioner to consider his position.

A government spokesperson told RTÉ that the two men believe the "event should never have been held, that the commissioner's apology came late and that he still needs to give a full account and explanation of his actions".

A spokesperson for Mr Hogan told RTÉ that "there will be no response this evening to the call from the taoiseach and tánaiste (deputy prime minister) that he consider his position" but that "we will reflect on it".

The president of the Oireachtas Golf Society has apologised "unreservedly" for the hurt caused by the dinner.

Others present at the event included Supreme Court judge Séamus Woulfe and independent TD (MP) Noel Grealish.

Previously, Taoiseach Micheál Martin described attendance at the event as a "monumental error of judgement".

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  • Irish Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary resigns for attending golf dinner