Golfgate

It is outrageous that our Covid restrictions were collectively breached by numerous politicians, a Government Minister, the deputy chair of the Seanad, a Supreme Court Judge, a European Commissioner, a bank lobby chief executive, and a retired RTE political presenter.

Ideally, this cartoon collection of conflicts of interest should not have been socialising together under the auspices of the Oireachtas Golf Society in the first place. That they did so in breach of pandemic guidelines that ordinary citizens are obeying is beyond comprehension.

Ordinary citizens have spent months restricting our movement and our social lives to contain the spread of the pandemic. People have cancelled weddings, been unable to visit family members and, heartbreakingly, stayed away from the funerals of loved ones.

Yet this group of eighty powerful people travelled from all around the country to bring a pandemic risk into one local community, then back to each of their own communities.

To make things worse, one was just back from playing golf in Spain and should have been in quarantine.

The idea that this was an unfortunate error of judgement is not good enough, for five reasons.

1. Oireachtas members are the people who make the rules for the rest of us. More than anybody else in the country, they should be aware of the detail of the rules and of their particular responsibility to maintain and support them.

2. They should have postponed the event until next year months ago, just to show a good example. If UEFA can postpone the European Championships, the Oireachtas Golf Society can postpone its annual outing and dinner.

3. Even if they did decide to go ahead, they should have limited it to the fifty people including staff allowed for an indoor event. They should be actively promoting and supporting the guidelines, not undermining them by nod-and-wink ‘partitioning the room’ nonsense.

4. Even if they hadn’t rescheduled it and hadn’t gone above the allowed fifty people including staff, they should have immediately cancelled the event once the new guidelines of six people for an indoors event were announced. Just cancel it, full stop, like ordinary citizens would have had to do.

5. Anybody who genuinely turned up under the mistaken belief that the event was conducted within the guidelines must have known that was wrong once they saw the room’s layout. They should have immediately left at that stage.

Finally, Sinn Fein has no credibility attacking the people who breached the guidelines. They did the same themselves at the recent funeral of IRA leader Bobby Storey.

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7 Comments

  1. Excellent piece, yes, Shinners been a bit reticent to put the boot in here after the Bobby Storey event in Belfast in the not too distant past.

  2. Michael, you make some excellent points in a typically incisive piece. However at the very end you needlessly included an anti Sinn Fein vignette which was really out of context. Otherwise you again have really hit the nail on the head. 👍🏼

  3. Colum, I am always aware when writing about Irish politics that I am probably prejudiced against Sinn Fein and Fianna Fáil, but I try to be as fair as I can. I think the reference to Sinn Fein here is relevant and it would have been odd to not include it. There are three approximately similarly sized parties in the Oireachtas, and public reps from each of them have breached the Covid guidelines.

  4. Colum, re your comment on Michael Nugents article “needlessly included an anti Sinn Féin vignette which was really out of context”. Please read a letter in today’s Irish Times from John Cushnahan (Former Fine Gael MEP and former leader of the Alliance Party), he has definitely ‘hit the nail on the head’.

  5. The letter from John Cushnahan was also published in the Irish Examiner. I read it in both organs. Unlike Michael’s incisive piece, Cushnahan’s was laboured and rambling as befits his period of public service when John would never use ten words when thirty would do.

  6. Colum ; at least John Cushnahan and the party he lead, the Alliance Party, never put a bomb under anyones vehicle, never left a no-warning bomb anywhere or shot anyone in the head. Otherwise, thank you for reply and interest.

  7. Sinn Féin MLA (Martina Anderson) apologises for ‘disgusting’ comments on Troubles Victims Pensions.

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