Most people attending the Golfgate dinner “suffered no sanction at all” while the likes of Phil Hogan saw their lives “completely upended”.
That’s according to Ivan Yates who is standing in for Pat Kenny on Newstalk this week.
He was speaking after RTÉ published an interview with Mr Hogan in which he accuses Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar of fuelling a “populist wave of indignation” as the scandal played out at the end of summer 2020.
He told Seán O’Rourke he is “still annoyed about what happened” and insisted that while he was “a bit sloppy” on the COVID restrictions that were in place at the time, he never broke any rule or any law.
Beginning the show this morning, Ivan Yates said: “I’ve got to pose the question; when you look back at it, lots of people attended Golfgate in August 2020 and they have suffered no sanction at all.
“You have Brian Hayes, you have Justice Seamus Wolfe – and they are still in their jobs.
“Others completely were upended – including not least Sean O’Rourke himself who had a two-year contract.
“Subsequently, we had Merriongate where Leo offered the very same excuse which was, well I was told by the organisers it was OK and it was legal – that was what people said about the Oireachtas Golf Society.
“Then we had the Clifden court case which found that actually the law wasn’t broken.”
Also on the show, Irish Examiner Political Correspondent Danny McConnell said Mr Hogan was trying to settle old scores, “from shaky enough ground”.
He noted that the former EU commissioner “apologised profusely” for his actions at the time, adding: “He can’t just walk away now because a bit of time has passed.”
“Surely there is an element of sour grapes here,” he said.
“He felt that the two leaders upended him and you know, they have to account for their political decisions as to essentially undermining their own commissionership.
“But the sight of Sean O’Rourke and Phil Hogan, who were both attending the event, kind of trying to settle old scores here I think there is a bit of brass neck on, certainly, Mr Hogan’s side in relation to it.”
He said there was a “justifiable anger and hurt felt by the Irish people” about the Golfgate dinner and warned that Phil Hogan’s real problems came from his “ever-changing story” at the time.
“It was […] the drip-feed of information,” he said.
“If you are under fire, you have one chance really to come up with your mea culpa and say listen, I account for everything.
“If you come up with your explanation and then there are further revelations, you know your credibility is dripping away.”
Mr McConnell said the Taoiseach and Tánaiste certainly undermined Mr Hogan’s position in Europe – but he still had plenty of opportunity to come out and set the record straight.
“The sole person responsible for Phil Hogan’s demise is Phil Hogan,” he said.
“It is not anybody else. It’s not the media, it’s not Leo Varadkar or Micheál Martin; it’s Phil Hogan.
“No amount of revisionism, in my view, can change that perspective or change that situation.”