Irish PM to recall Parliament as virus scandal grows

DUBLIN Irish Prime Minister (PM) Micheal Martin (picture) announced yesterday he would recall Parliament following a scandal over politicians breaching coronavirus rules, for which he urged European Union trade commissioner Phil Hogan to consider resigning.

Martin and his coalition government partners, Deputy PM (DPM) Leo Varadkar and Cabinet Minister Eamon Ryan, “have agreed that the Dail (Parliament) should be recalled”, a spokesman said.

The news came after two days of political turmoil following revelations that swathes of lawmakers and senior politicians attended a parliamentary golf society dinner in breach of coronavirus guidelines.

The Irish Examiner newspaper revealed 82 high-profile figures — including Hogan, a Cabinet minister and a Supreme Court judge — attended the Oireachtas (Parliament) Golf Society dinner on Aug 19.

The event was held just 24 hours after the government announced fresh Covid-19 restrictions to curb a new surge in cases, including no “formal or informal events or parties” to be held at hotel restaurants.

It was reported that attendees at the dinner sat at tables of 10 in breach of coronavirus guidelines and organisers erected a room divider in a bid to skirt legislation banning gatherings of more than 50.

But police last Friday said they had opened an investigation into the event for alleged breaches of that same legislation.

Martin and Varadkar — the head of Fine Gael, the party for which Hogan previously served as a lawmaker — said on Saturday they had “asked him to consider his position”.

A spokesman for Hogan told state broadcaster RTE on Saturday he would “reflect on” the request.

Irish Agriculture Minister Dara Calleary and Deputy Chair of the Parliament’s upper chamber Jerry Buttimer have both already resigned for their attendance at the event. — AFP