EU Commissioner Phil Hogan has resigned from his role following controversy surrounding the #GolfGate incident this week.
In a statement released on Wednesday evening, Mr Hogan said:
"It was becoming increasingly clear that the controversy concerning my recent visit to Ireland was becoming a distraction from my work as an EU Commissioner and would undermine my work in the key months ahead.
"I deeply regret that my trip to Ireland - the country I have been so proud to represent as a public servant for most of my adult life - caused such concern, unease and upset.
"I have always tried to comply with all Covid-19 regulations in Ireland and had understood that I had met with all relevant public health guidelines, particularly following confirmation of a negative Covid-19 test," he added.
"I reiterate my heartfelt apology to the Irish people for mistakes I made during my visit.
"The Irish people have made incredible efforts to contain the coronavirus, and the European Commission will continue to support you, and all EU member states, in defeating this terrible pandemic."
Mr Hogan has been in the spotlight in recent days after the Irish Examiner revealed he attended a controversial Oireachtas Golf Society event in Galway last week.
The event hit the headlines after it was revealed more than 80 people were in attendance, including Ministers and Senators.
Mr Hogan appears to have breached a number of Covid-19 regulations in attending and in other movements he made since returning to Ireland from Brussels late last month.
Speaking to The Echo, Cork TD Donnchadh O’Laoghaire (SF), said Mr Hogan’s resignation is welcome but long overdue.
“His resignation effectively had to be dragged out of him after a drip-drip of revelations that showed just how many of the regulations he had broken.
“The entire incident is a symptom of a government that has been chaotic from the outset and is going from controversy to controversy,” he added.
“It’s not been good for public confidence at a time when we needed that confidence to ensure we can tackle the pandemic.
“We need now to focus on the issues that really matter, which is getting schools reopened, people back to work, and building capacity in our health service.
“We want the Dail back at full tilt so we can focus on these issues and put this sad, sorry episode of the past days and weeks behind us so we can tackle the challenges before us.”
Fellow Cork TD Colm Burke (FG) said it leaves Ireland in a weakened position ahead of crunch Brexit talks in the coming months.
“The problem that we now have is the reappointment.
“The likelihood is that whoever is appointed will not get the same portfolio.
“I think it is unfortunate that this has happened at a time when we needed a strong commissioner in Brussels,” he added.
“We’re now in the final stages of Brexit, which will have huge consequences if a deal is not reached.
"A large element of our exports go to the UK and we need to ensure that we get an agreement that is supportive of Irish industry, particularly the agricultural industry," said Mr Burke.
“We are a very small country with a population of around five million people, a small proportion of the EU’s 450 million people.
“Without a strong commissioner at the table when the European Union is signing off on Brexit, we’re in a very weak position.”