EU trade chief faces HUMILIATING sacking – Varadkar blows top at Ireland’s top eurocrat

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The Commission’s £240,000-a-year trade commissioner has been rounded on by Irish leaders, who all insisted he breached public health guidelines to curb the spread of the pandemic when he travelled to Ireland. In an interview, Mr Hogan issued a grovelling apology and claimed his future is now in the hands of Mrs von der Leyen, the European Commission’s president. Asked if he would resign, the eurocrat replied: “Ultimately the president of the Commission makes that decision, it’s not for me to make that decision at the end of the day.

“I was asked to give a fuller account by the president, in fact I was asked by the Taoiseach… and I hope people will see I’ve done everything possible in order to comply with the COVID-19 regulations.

“And I certainly, in good faith, did everything I possibly could to comply with those regulations because we all have responsibilities.”

His apology came after Irish prime minister Micheal Martin and Leo Varadkar, the deputy premier, said Mr Hogan should consider his position.

The trade commissioner sparked fury after attending a dinner with 81 people organised by a golf society in Ireland’s parliament.

The so-called “golfgate” affair prompted the resignation of agriculture minister Dara Calleary after media reports he attended the gathering.

But in a statement, the leaders of the three government parties said “concerns remain” about Mr Hogan’s movements after arriving in Ireland last month.

“It is clear that breaches of public health guidelines were made by commissioner Phil Hogan since he travelled to Ireland,” Mr Martin and Mr Varadkar said.

“The government guidelines clearly required him to restrict his movements for 14 days.

“He should also have limited his movements to and from Kildare for essential travel only, and he should not have attended the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner.

“People are correctly angered by these actions given the sacrifices so many have made to adhere to public health guidelines.”

They added the EU commissioner’s “delayed and hesitant release of information undermined public confidence”.

In an attempt to explain the controversy, Mr Hogan delivered a lengthy explanation of his movements to Mrs von der Leyen.

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But his statement has been called into question by local media reports in Ireland.

A Leinster woman told the Irish Times that Mr Hogan had dined in a public restaurant on the night he flew into Ireland, when he should have been self-isolating.

“We were there for our wedding anniversary; he was seated at the table behind us with two other gentlemen,” she said.

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Another woman claimed she saw Mr Hogan using public areas at the K Club resort during the first week of August.

The commissioner is also said to have made a social visit to County Roscommon on August 17, which was not mentioned in his statement published by the Commission.

David O’Sullivan, a former EU ambassador to the US, is understood to have been lined up by Dublin to succeed Mr Hogan if he is asked to resign from his position.

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