The bombshell news that top politicians broke every COVID rule in the book during a golf outing and dinner has enraged the Irish public.
To the utter consternation of the public, who have sacrificed and undergone extraordinary hardship to stop COVID, 80 or so of these fine fellows decide to break every COVID rule in the book.
They went ahead with a weekend golf competition followed by a hearty dinner in a Clifden, Galway hotel after their day’s exertions. It was a political lollapalooza, just days after they had voted to limit any indoor event to 50 people.
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The lads clearly had a rollicking time, with no social distancing or mask-wearing, lots of “howrya” friendly handshakes and hugs and reports of late-night drinking. Other hotel residents looked on in shock as the Irish elite partied like the good old days.
There was immediate consternation in a country where the ordinary people have been bearing the brunt of the COVID epidemic and diligently following rules laid down by the same political class that then flaunted them with complete abandon.
The fed-up Irish voters read in astonishment the list of names of those high fliers breaking the law so recklessly especially at a time when the virus has re-emerged and forced a major reassessment of how it needs to be handled.
The names of the guilty proved to be a right shock. There was Ireland’s European Commissioner Phil Hogan, Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary, and Supreme Court Justice Seamus Wolfe, to name just three.
Also on the golf bandwagon were the Deputy Speaker of the Irish Senate, a former Speaker of the Senate, and Ireland’s former leading political journalist Sean O’Rourke recently retired.
O'Rourke, to his credit, apologized instantly.
“I should not have been at the dinner in Clifden on Wednesday. I don’t have a defense,” he said.
The Supreme Court justice Seamus Wolfe was also called on the mat and his future depends on a meeting with the Chief Justice this week. He abjectly apologized.
There was no such apology initially from Commissioner Hogan who obviously felt he was too important a fellow to be bothered with such nonsense.
However, once the tidal wave of disgust began to peak, Hogan did a 360 turn and issued a fulsome apologia.
No sooner was it done then it also turned out he had been stopped by police on his way to the golf event for using his cellphone while driving - and that he had stopped off in his residence in Kildare, a county under lockdown because of a major outbreak. By rights, he should have quarantined after visiting a locked-down county.
Now Hogan’s job hangs in the balance but the decision is made by the head of the European Union, not the Irish government who have asked that he “consider his position” politico speech to resign.
It fell to Irish leader Micheal Martin to fire his minister for agriculture while both main government parties Fianna Fail and Fine Gael suspended numerous politicians for taking part in the golf tournament.
This has become a star-crossed government though only in power a few months. There are several instances already of political wrongdoing and personal clashes between key members of both parties.
But the golf outing and dinner was the last straw for many of the public.
As leading Irish Times columnist Cliff Taylor wrote: “With public trust damaged by seemingly endless controversy and voters rightly furious about the golf dinner, the Government urgently needs to persuade people that it can operate coherently and competently.”
There is no clear evidence of that.
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