The Garda commissioner refuses to say whether the briefing to the Attorney General about Phil Hogan during ‘Golfgate’ led to his resignation

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has declined to answer whether his briefing to the Justice Secretary on Phil Hogan during the ‘Golfgate’ scandal contributed to the EU commissioner’s resignation.

Commissioner Harris was under pressure to comment on An Garda Síochána’s role in his investigation into the controversial Oireachtas Golf Society event at Clifden in Galway 2020 during the height of restrictions.

Earlier this year a judge dismissed charges against four people, including Galway West Independent TD Noel Grealish and former Fianna Fáil Senator Donie Cassidy, who were accused of illegally holding the August 2020 event.

Judge Mary Fahy found that “very good people lost very good positions and contracts” as a result of the outing.

Former EU Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan, who also attended the event, finally resigned from his post after much controversy over his movements across Ireland at a time of severe lockdowns.

It later emerged that Commissioner Harris told Justice Secretary Helen McEntee, who later told the Taoiseach, that Mr Hogan was stopped by Gardaí in Kildare on 17 August 2020.

Commissioner Harris forwarded the information to the Minister of Justice under a controversial section of the 2005 Garda Síochána Act, which allows the Commissioner to share a wide range of sensitive information with the Minister of Justice.

Commissioner Harris, appearing before the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee this morning, declined to answer whether that would result in Mr Hogan’s resignation.

He told Fianna Fáil, TD James O’Connor, that he had written to the Secretary-General and that “some letters” he was sending under this legislation could also be sent to the Minister.

“I have looked into the matter and I believe it meets the requirements of Section 41 for a report to the Minister,” said the Commissioner.

“Do you think that contributed to the commissioner’s resignation?” asked Deputy O’Connor.

“I have no comment on that,” Commissioner Harris said.

The Cork TD said the Galway dinner “had a tremendous impact on a lot of very, very public profiles in relation to her career” which was of “major public concern”.

He added that it was “very unwise” by those who attended and that many now “regret” it, and asked if the Gardaí had “launched” an investigation.

Commissioner Harris said that An Garda Síochána has a legal role in “preventing and detecting crime”.

“The investigation file serves to preserve evidence, the file has apparently been completed to the satisfaction of the prosecutor because an indictment has been brought,” he said.

He could not say how much the police investigation into the events in Clifden had cost, but said that figure could be made available to the committee. The Garda commissioner refuses to say whether the briefing to the Attorney General about Phil Hogan during ‘Golfgate’ led to his resignation

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