'If you cannot lead by example, you should not lead': Man who missed last hug with mother blasts golf dinner politicians

'If you cannot lead by example, you should not lead': Man who missed last hug with mother blasts golf dinner politicians
Niall Hawthorne spoke out in anger about the death of his 69-year-old mother Rosarie.

A CORKMAN who denied his mother a hug just a week before she unexpectedly died has slammed those who 

attended the controversial Oireachtas Golf Society dinner on Wednesday night.

A garda investigation into alleged possible breaches of the Covid-19 restrictions is under way after 80 people who had attended the dinner at the Station House hotel in Galway'

Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary resigned as Minister for Agriculture and Cork Senator Jerry Buttimer stepped down from his role as Leas Cathaoirleach of the Seanad yesterday morning. Both attended the event and have apologised. 

Niall Hawthorne spoke out in anger about the death of his 69-year-old mother Rosarie on June 24, after details of Wednesday night's dinner emerged.

Niall said he had not been able to see his mother for three months, because she lived in Ballincollig and he lives in Cloyne - outside the 5km and 20km distances imposed in the early stages of lockdown.

When he finally got to visit her when the 20km restriction was lifted in June, he said they sat on different sides of a room in her home as they caught up with each other.

"She had been in hospital just before Covid but she was then cocooning at home in Ballincollig with other family members," he told The Echo. "We were following the rules so I could not see her because I live in east Cork."

Of their last meeting, he said: "She asked me for a hug when I was leaving and I said I couldn't because of the rules."

He said she agreed he was right and they had been looking forward to being able to hug each other again in the future. He had bought her a Mother's Day card but had forgotten to give it to her.

But his beloved mum passed away in her sleep unexpectedly a week later, without receiving the card.

Her funeral was held under the Covid-19 restrictions, with just 50 people allowed to attend. He said mourners could not include friends because of the restrictions on numbers.

He now is haunted by his decision to not hug her and believes her memory and those of others who have died during the pandemic have been disrespected by those who attended the dinner on Wednesday night.

He continued: "The government has been asking us to do what we can and make the sacrifices we have needed to make, for the greater good."

He said politicians should lead by example, adding that those who don't should question their moral compass.

And he said: "If you cannot lead by example, then you should not lead."

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