A former Lord Mayor of Kilkenny who attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner dubbed “Golfgate” has revealed that the level of calls and abuse he received was frightening.
Kilkenny based Fine Gael councillor and former Kilkenny mayor Martin Brett attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner as an invited guest in August 2020 which caused a major backlash in public anger.
Cllr Brett said that many of his political colleagues had to receive “counselling” due to the verbal abuse they were subjected to.
Galway Independent TD Noel Grealish, along with former Fianna Fáil senator Donie Cassidy, John Sweeney and his son James Sweeney who own the Station House Hotel, had been accused of illegally holding the event in August 2020.
All charges in the Circuit Court trial were dismissed last week when Judge Mary Fahy agreed that all four had fully complied with Covid regulations.
Former minister for agriculture Dara Calleary resigned from his post on the morning of August 21st for attending, 12 hours after the Co Galway based Oireachtas golf society event in Clifden.
Cllr Brett, speaking on his local radio station KCLRFM said he “really would not like to experience again the reaction that it drew”.
“We all asked the relevant questions about the adherence to the gathering rules.
“At the end of the day, common sense and good will I would think [ impacted] people’s views and attitudes have changed a little bit in 2022 as opposed to 2020.”
Revealing the abuse he received as a result of Golfgate, Cllr Brett said: “It was incredible. I’m not so sure I’d ever want to go back there.
“Would I want to be involved in all of that again in the sense of the media, [no].
“[There were] phone calls at 2am, 3am or 4am reporters from everywhere all because I was a guest at the thing, and I’m not minimising [the abuse].
“I can attest that a lot of my colleagues who were at it had to have counselling because of the amount of abuse they were getting. It was frightening, it was frightening.”
Cllr Brett also revealed he received an extensive amount of social media abuse.
Fellow Kilkenny native Phil Hogan had to step down as EU Trade Commissioner when further breaches of Covid guidelines emerged in the wake of the event.
He said he believes that Mr Hogan, a former government minister, should still be in his job regardless of how other “misdemeanours” were judged by the EU.
“Phil Hogan and I would be very good friends. I wouldn’t have gotten into politics without Phil. What has happened to Phil is incredible. But if you were to take the comment the Judge (Mary Fahy) said that the court of public opinion is not the court of law,” he added.
“Does the end product warrant what happened?
“No. The biggest loss was the portfolio. He had a portfolio worth €400 billion.
“We had a seat at the Commission and knew exactly what was happening. He was using that for the benefit of Ireland.”
Cllr Brett continued that he thinks Mr Calleary will be re-instated as a Cabinet Minister.
“He shouldn’t have been allowed to resign. It has passed (Golfgate) and it has gone and no-body died and got sick (as a result of it).
He said he would not rule out playing golf again with the Oireachtas Golf Society in the future if and when it is up and running again if invited to do so as a guest.