Dáil to be recalled early to deal with fallout from golfgate 

Dáil to be recalled early to deal with fallout from golfgate 
22/02/2019 (L to R) Fianna Fail Leader Micheal Martin TD & Deputy Leader Dara Calleary TD speaking to media where the 79U Fianna Fail Ard Fheis was discussed on the Plinth of Leinster House, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

The Dáil is to be recalled early to discuss the fallout from the Connemara golf dinner.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar have also asked EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan to consider his position.

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said it had no role in organising or providing clearance for last week's Oireachtas Golf Society event in Clifden.

A statement from the Government said: "The Taoiseach, Tánaiste, and Minister Eamon Ryan have agreed that the Dail should be recalled following the reopening of schools.

"The Taoiseach will make this request to the ceann comhairle on Monday."

The Dáil had not been due to return until September 15.

Public figures who attended the event, with more than 80 people across two rooms present, committed a "monumental" error of judgment, the Taoiseach has said.

Mr Martin said his former agriculture minister, Dara Calleary, had done the right thing in resigning, amid a public backlash at the behaviour during the pandemic.

Mr Calleary and Jerry Buttimer, Leas Cathaoirleach of the Seanad, announced their resignations on Friday.

Supreme Court judge Seamus Woulfe was also in attendance.

Gardai are investigating whether the dinner at the Station House Hotel in Clifden, Co Galway, on Wednesday night had breached coronavirus regulations.

The Government said on Tuesday it would reduce the number of people allowed to gather in a bid to reduce the coronavirus rate of spread.

Tables in restaurants should not exceed six people, from no more than three households, and no more than 50 people should gather indoors.

An IHF statement said: "The IHF provides general guidance and at all times we encourage hotels and guesthouses to comply with the required guidelines.

"We do not have any role in enforcing, monitoring or approving the implementation of this guidance or operational guidelines."

On Wednesday morning the IHF received a follow-up query from the organiser of the Oireachtas Golf Society in relation to the guidelines for indoor gatherings.

It indicated that it had no update from the Department of Tourism on the guidelines.

The representative organisation added: "Existing guidance at that time still allowed for indoor gatherings of a maximum of 50 people at any one time.

"Multiple gatherings were allowed in venue facilities, provided they were in separate defined spaces and there were systems to prevent intermingling in common spaces."

The Taoiseach denied his leadership had been damaged by the episode, but acknowledged public anger compromised his Government's messaging around the pandemic.

The ceann comhairle of the Oireachtas has suggested the golf society be wound up.

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