Golfgate attendees showed 'arrogant delusion' - Ceann Comhairle


Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

15.29 2 Sep 2020


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The breaches of COVID-19 public health measures by those who attended last month's golf dinner in Clifden have been described as "the result of collective crass stupidity, or arrogant delusion, or both".

The comments were made by the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl who was speaking at the opening of this afternoon's sitting of the Dáil.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said that the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and other leaders "have rightly said that the dinner hosted by self-styled Oireachtas Golfing Society should never have happened".

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He said: "Members, we all make mistakes, there's not one amongst us who if they had their time over wouldn't change their approach to some issues or perhaps engage with certain issues at all, that is perfectly normal.

"What isn't normal, however, is for well-intentioned, intelligent and otherwise competent people to make a decision that is in itself fundamentally wrong.

He added: "Serious indefensible breaches of regulations took place on August 19th in Clifden.

"These breaches were either the result of collective crass stupidity, or arrogant delusion, or both."

Confidence in Dáil damaged

Mr Ó Fearghaíl continued that "confidence in this Dáil has been damaged" as "the event and the circumstances which flowed from it has damaged public confidence in our public system and confidence wasn't high at the best of times".

He said it was incumbent on those attending the Dáil today "to collectively commit to working together to rebuild confidence in our parliamentary system".

He stated: "As legislators, we make the rules, but the rules apply to everyone and there can be no exceptions or special treatment.

"There must be fairness and consistency as we tackle the scourge of COVID-19.

The Ceann Comhairle said that "those who seek to fan the flames of understandable public anger are not acting in the public interest".

Similarly, he said the public interest was not served when there were a number of outspoken remarks made on July 30th at the closing session of the Dáil.

He said: "If public confidence in the 33rd Dáil is to be restored then the public must be satisfied that the Dáil can conduct its business in a manner which is respectful, constructive and is as collegial as any political system can be.

"We must strive to actively listen to each other, to work together and to demonstrate to the Irish public that our one and only objective is to serve the best interests of that public.

Mr Ó Fearghaíl said he has asked for the Oireachtas Golfing Society to be disbanded, a society which he said was never formally enacted by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

He has also asked the clerk of theDáil to examine whether there are any other sich societies operating under the aegis of the Oireachtas.

Main image: Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl at the Convention Centre in June. Photo: Maxwells

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