Posted on 9th September 2020

Slane Castle

So the Commissioner bites the dust.  From the moment he returned home to “self-isolate” it was clear he thought he could flout the rules.  He was seen dining with others in the Restaurant in the K Club the night he arrived.  Details about his movements gradually seeped out and had become the subject of ridicule with images of the Hogan Tour T-shirt whizzing around the internet.  He wasn’t being straight and an apology when it came had to be dragged out of him.  He tried to cast blame elsewhere, particularly when it came to his attendance at the dinner.  Now, let me deal with that matter.  Anyone with a modicum of sense would know that having 81 people to a dinner was highly irresponsible, as well as against current rules and regulations.  Take Enda Kenny as an example.  He came to play golf.  He did not attend the dinner.  In fact, I have it on very good authority that he said holding the thing was bonkers, or words to that effect.  Now, I’m sorry to say throughout this ill-judged episode, Phil Hogan displayed extraordinary arrogance and lack of judgement.  On a personal level it is sad to see a distinguished career come to such an undistinguished end.  Now what remains is the position of the Judge.  The legal fraternity are apparently divided as to whether he should resign or not.  In my opinion his position is untenable.  Somebody like him should be above reproach.

Now one aspect to this whole affair was that the public saw for the first time what they were hoping for when the government was formed, unity of purpose.  If only they could practise the same behaviour in dealing with the myriad of problems facing the nation.  I have more than a little sympathy with the position the Taoiseach finds himself in – losing 2 Ministers for Agriculture in the matter of weeks is more than bad luck.  When the Dail reconvenes he must come forward with a solid choice and the money is on Charlie McConalogue from Donegal.  He comes from a farming background and his appointment would be sound geographically.  Next we need to see a little more respect for the office of the Taoiseach from the Tanaiste, Leo Varadkar.  His behaviour of late has not contributed to the stability of the Government.  Has not the bizarre appointment of an aide-de-camp been sufficient to satisfy his ego.  His turn to be Top Dog will come around again or maybe the Government should send him off to Brussels to be the next Commissioner.  In any event, I do hope things settle down and that we don’t have any further car crash behaviour by members of the Government.

Now on the question of selecting the next Commissioner, I do see a bit of a problem.  The President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen wants the Government to put forward both a man and a woman, with one to be selected.  So the Government have to persuade 2 people to go forward under those conditions, in addition to the European Parliamentary scrutiny  they would have to undergo.  I think the Irish Government should only have to put forward one candidate.

By Henry Mount Charles

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