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21st Aug 2020

Leo Varadkar makes statement condemning Clifden Golf event

Megan Cassidy

Leo Varadkar has released a statement regarding the Oireachtas Golf Society event that flew in the face of latest Covid restrictions.

Taking to Twitter the former Taoiseach wrote:

‘The event organised by the Oireachtas Golf Society should not have happened. I understand how extremely difficult the restrictions have been for people and the enormous sacrifices we have all made.

‘Funerals, christenings, weddings, family holidays and other really important family occasions have been foregone to protect each other and the most vulnerable. As representatives we should lead by example.

‘In recognition of the seriousness of this matter, I have removed the party whip from Senators Jerry Buttimer, Paddy Burke and John Cummins. Senator Jerry Buttimer has also resigned his position as Leas-Chathaoirleach of the Seanad.

‘All have apologised profusely and accept they made a serious error of judgment.’

The event which took place on Wednesday night saw over 80 people, many of whom are government representatives,  in attendance, with ten people allocated to a table.

On Tuesday evening, new Covid restrictions were announced, instructing that tables at indoor events should not exceed six people from three different households.

Indoor gatherings have been restricted to a limit of 50 people since June, with the latest instructions setting out that only weddings and artistic or cultural events should be allowed to have up to fifty people in attendance.

Among attendees was Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary, whose resignation was accepted this morning by Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

In a statement, Mr Calleary said:

“Last night I attended a function I committed to a number of weeks ago, having been asked to pay tribute to a person I respected and admired greatly.

“In light of the updated public health guidance this week I should not have attended the event. I wish to apologise unreservedly to the public, from whom we are asking quite a lot at this difficult time. I also offer this apology and my sincere regret to my government colleagues.”