EU trade chief resists calls to quit over Covid rules breach in Ireland | World news

The European trade commissioner, Phil Hogan, has apologised again for attending an event in his native Ireland that may have breached Covid-19 regulations, but an EU official said he would not heed calls from Irish leaders to resign.

“The commissioner is not resigning,” said the official, who is close to the EU executive’s trade policy chief.

The Irish representative on the European commission was asked on Saturday by Ireland’s prime minister and deputy prime minister to consider his position after his attendance at a golf dinner caused public outrage and led to other political resignations.

Hogan, who offered an initial apology on Friday only after the prime minister, Micheál Martin, demanded one, said on Sunday he had listened carefully to the views of Martin and the deputy prime minister, Leo Varadkar.

“I acknowledge my actions have touched a nerve for the people of Ireland, something for which I am profoundly sorry,” Hogan said in a statement, adding that his attendance had caused “unnecessary stress, risk and offence”.

“I want, in particular, to apologise to … all people who have lost loved ones during this pandemic.”

Hogan said he had been reporting to the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, on the event in recent days.

An Irish cabinet minister quit and other lawmakers were disciplined on Friday for being among more than 80 guests at a hotel dinner in the west of Ireland hosted by the parliament’s golf society, the night after Covid-19 restrictions were significantly tightened.

The golf dinner has infuriated Irish people who have been unable to attend funerals or had to cancel holidays or weddings because of the rules. Varadkar, the leader of the Fine Gael party, said it had seriously damaged the national effort at a time of rising infections.

Varadkar welcomed Sunday’s more detailed apology from Hogan, a former Fine Gael minister, but said a further explanation was required in respect of both his attendance at the dinner and his movements around Ireland.

“If he can’t do that, then he needs to consider his position,” Varadkar told RTE Radio.

Source: The Guardian

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