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[00:00:01]

That pot Kenny show on Newstalk. People before profited for Dundee, Richard Boyd Barrett is on the line. Richard, good morning. Good morning, Pat. You think, too, that Phil Hogan should resign? I do. I just think that's the absolutely critical pillar of our strategy to combat covid-19 is the principle that we're all in it together and that the public health guidelines, which are very difficult, very draconian for people to put up with and where people have suffered a lot of hardship, if they're not seen to apply to everybody, and particularly to people who are the most senior political representatives, the people who make the rules, whether the rules are here in Ireland or the rules in Europe, because let's remember, Phil Hogan is actually Ireland's representative on in the European government, for want of a better word, the most powerful body in Europe who are also as a collective entity fighting the de covid-19 virus.

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So to be involved in such a flagrant breach, then to delay and delay before actually apologizing and for there to be no sanction whatsoever, it just completely unravels the principle of solidarity, which has underpinned the collective effort to combat covid-19.

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So I just think his position is I can see the principle here, although the legal principle is less clear because we nominate Phil to be our commissioner. After that he becomes the creature of the commission. He's not ours anymore.

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He's not supposed to be. By the way, you know, if he was seen to be acting in a partisan way towards Ireland, he'd be wrapped across the knuckles on might indeed have to resign. But ostensibly, anyway, he doesn't act in Ireland's interests and the interests of the EU.

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Well, you know that that's supposed to be true, although it's all that a lot of those you are saying he shouldn't resign are saying it will be a desperate blow for Ireland if he wasn't trade commissioner, which suggests that those who are defending him don't believe that to be the case and that they actually.

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Let me just pass that a bit on the fact that someone who knows Ireland is arguing the case in the Brexit negotiations might be better than someone from Slovenia trying to make Ireland's case. It's a matter of, you know, how well briefed you would be as a commissioner, particularly a new one.

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Would you know enough about the Irish situation as an Irish commissioner, whoever that might be would be. And we know well, we think we know that if Arsala asks Sharon to resign, that it's very unlikely that whoever we nominate to replace him would get the trade brief.

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And yeah, it's quite possible they wouldn't get the trade brief, although I do think that it's been clear that there's been fairly close cooperation between the Irish government, whoever their representatives are, and the European Union in the context of the negotiations. So I don't really see that as a critical as a critical argument. But I think the bigger argument is the one about our collective solidarity in the face of covid-19. And if the people who are very powerful, you know, political people, whether in Ireland, in Europe and in this case, somebody who is nominated by the Irish government are involved in not not a minor breach, not a you know, a small breach, because, of course, you know, I don't think there's probably anybody who could say that they have been absolutely lying perfect for the last six months.

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But it was a flagrant breach. You know, that is really inexplicable.

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And and, you know, it's the subject of a guard, the investigation at the moment, which seems to be, you know, a waste of guard, the time in one way. So you have the hotel who divide the room in two. So it becomes in their minds two functions.

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And if anyone was to ring up the hotel and ask them where they adhering to covid-19, presumably they would say, yes, we are, even though they weren't quite clearly they weren't, because you had, you know, a way to get from one room to the other.

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I'm sure the staff were common to each of the areas and so on and so forth. And we will be talking later on about what guidelines the hotels actually have.

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But if you rang up of Richard Boyd, Barrett was a golfer, don't know whether he is or not, but he rings up and they say, yeah, we're kosher with covid regulations.

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And you fetch up and there you are and you say, holy God, there's 80 people here, not 50, I'm off.

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And then the Killelea family come over and say, Richard, it's great to have you here.

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Do you? Yeah. I mean, certainly the actually certain certainly part of the hotel has questions to answer.

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But to be honest, the biggest responsibility does lie with and very, very well versed. People who would have been, you know, members of one or other of the governing parties or in the case of Phil Hogan, you know, Ireland's most senior European political representative and, you know, even the hotel owners would probably have imagined that these people sort of knew what they were doing. So it sort of gives a green light even to the hotel. If you have people of this high standing and going ahead with an event to suggest that somehow it's OK for them to do it when clearly it isn't.

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And and, you know, that idea or that sense that there's one law for the elite who make the rules and another law for the rest of the people who are supposed to simply take the rules, that is untenable. And I think that's what has aroused such absolute anger and disgust among people and loans to Adara.

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O'Brien but also Mary Lou McDonald, the leader of Sinn Fein, has called on Phil Hogan to go.

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You can see the advantage for Fianna Foyle if he goes because they get to nominate the commissioner. One presumes so to be a good job for a boy or a girl and nominated by the teacher to the commission for Mary Lou McDonald.

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You know, the more this government appears to be chaotic and careless and Phil Hogan going would be seen as another aspect of careless government. So political advantage as well.

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So sometimes you have to sort out, you know, why people are actually saying the things they're saying from a point of view of their own political advantage, because Mary Lou this morning did not answer the Barbie story, funeral question very well on our breakfast show.

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Yeah, well, look, I mean, certainly people may have political motives to some degree, but I don't think the anger that's felt out there is politically motivated. I think it is genuine anger at double standards and maybe a sense of entitlement at that people.

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Richard, let me clarify. I'm throwing out these arguments, but I've definitely heard the disgust in ordinary people that there appeared to be one rule for the political class and their allies and another rule for ordinary Joes. I think so.

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And you see, where this is all critical is not just about what has happened, but what's going to happen, because we don't know at this stage what further public health measures may be necessary. But quite possibly we could face further lockdowns. The government, something I don't actually support, are talking about very draconian legislation which would give the Gardy the right to enter people's private homes. We had a narrative for the last number of weeks coming from many government spokespeople about people partying, particularly focusing on young people.

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So you have all that on the one hand, and then you have some of the most senior political people and one of the most senior judges in the country and a former attorney general flagrantly breaking the rules that everybody would expect them to be fully familiar with.

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And a couple of things.

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You mentioned the guard, the powers that the government are proposing. I mean, Drew Harris, it appears, took upon himself the role of whistleblower on Phil Hogan. What do you think of that?

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I mean, I yeah, I suppose he is obliged to give information that's relevant to the breach of the rules.

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And, you know, if it is bona fide information and earlier, Richard, that suppose I was stopped for some minor offense and, you know, I was given a warning or whatever, and then I'm interviewing a political figure about something. And the guy, the commissioner said, by the way, Pat Carney was stopped on the end, seven doing something or other. And then that political figure throws it back at me when I'm interviewing him. By the way, you can't talk.

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You were stopped for picking your nose out of traffic light or whatever. It might be something trivial. Do you know what I mean?

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And why do I think I mean, I. I do know what you mean. And I do think that information coming from the Gardy about individuals being stopped, as you know, is something that has to be very carefully controlled. And I don't think there should be a daily.

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Alan, I do indeed. Yes, I lost it.

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I remember well on prime time. Absolutely.

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And that was undoubtedly inappropriate, particularly as she proved to be innocent of any charge. But I think where there are and these would appear and we need explanations and this where there seems to be a flat contradiction between the testimony given by Phil Hogan and information that was available to Drew Harris, then I think it's probably legitimate to raise that point to that question. And for Phil Hogan to give answers as to particularly, you know, was his journey. In and out of Kildare County, where there was a lockdown going on, was that actually within the guidelines?

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Because, again, that would be a very serious breach and one which really would be a stomach punch to the people of color. Leyshon Ophélie, who suffered a very difficult, draconian return to lockdown over the last number of weeks. Yeah.

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Now, if the narrative is, as Phil Hogan has so far outlined it, that is he was in Kilkenny or whatever popped by the cake club because you're allowed to drive through Kildare, by the way, without stopping. That's not a problem there on our motorway system.

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But he popped into the club to pick up these documents and also presumably his golf clubs, you know, because if you're saying of the club, you keep your clubs close at hand in case you're attracted by a game of golf.

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So he does that, but he doesn't meet anybody. He's in his car. He gets back in the car. He plows on to Clifton. You know, does that constitute an offence in itself? Never mind the mobile phone, which is a theory, an offence?

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Well, I mean, to be honest with you, it really does not look good. I mean, it's not as if he was going to Clifton for a meeting. He was going to Clifton for a party, a golf party. And so from the outside, that looks difficult to sustain the argument that this was essential travel to go back to Kildare, into Kildare, where he had been staying, and then on to a party and go away, a party which was operating in flagrant breach of public health guidelines.

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I also find a little bit difficult to believe they didn't have some sense of the scale of the event. I mean, there's a lot of talk about, you know, when they got there, maybe they should have realised. But it just seems a little bit hard to to credit that there wasn't some sense that this was a fairly big event among those that were attending that they had no idea whatsoever about, you know, the numbers of people attending.

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Some people went and we heard this morning and Kenny played the golf but didn't go to the dinner. And there's nothing in the rules to stop you playing golf with your pals or indeed tennis or whatever other sport you might do, as long as there aren't hundreds of people milling together in some fashion.

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So there are people who went to the to the Gulf and didn't go to the dinner wisely, as it turns out.

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Yeah, well, indeed. But that sort of underlines the point. And I'm not sure what their reasons for. Was it because they were uncomfortable going to a big dinner event afterwards or, you know, I don't know. I can't obviously speak for them, but for those that obviously would have had to indicate in advance that they were intending to attend the dinner, it seems a little bit difficult to credit. They didn't have some idea that there was going to be fairly significant numbers of people, that they had no idea at all who was going to be there.

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That doesn't really seem terribly credible to me. But in any event, regardless of that situation, the event was clearly, flagrantly in breach of the guidelines.

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And the final thing, Richard, is, is the big picture stuff, because a lot of people are making this point. You know, they don't like the idea of what happened there in Clifton, in the stationhouse hotel, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, and the the optics of the whole thing. But people are saying big picture, you know, Rollan, six months on, someone interviews in Europe, interviews Phil Hogan and said, why did you resign?

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Well, actually, I was using my mobile phone on, you know, on a road in Ireland. And I also went to a golf dinner. That's why I resigned. I don't know, doesn't it?

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When I realised I think if it was just a mobile phone incident, that probably would be the case. But I think the issue of solidarity and a sort of collective, we're all in it together. Efforts to deal with covid-19 is no trivial matter at all. This is, you know, the most severe global pandemic that we have witnessed in our lifetime are likely to do so where, you know, millions of people have contracted the disease. Huge numbers of people have lost their lives.

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This is a very serious matter. And, you know, the entire population of this country and and countries across the world have had to endure huge economic and personal hardship to try and combat this virus. So this is not a trivial matter. And I think people rightly see it as critically important that the people who make the laws and who represent us in Europe are at government level, cannot be seen to not have to abide by the rules that everybody else abide by.

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And by the way, it's you know, there's also some debate, but it's a separate debate in a certain sense about the particular role that Phil Hogan has played, played in Mercosur talks, for example, which arguably are very detrimental to farming interests in this country, to small and medium farmers in particular.

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But that, in a way, is a separate political issue. But the critical issue is, you know, the huge national and collective. And indeed, international effort to combat covid-19, it's a mortal threat to us economically, socially at the mental health level and every sort of level, this has changed our entire lives. And you cannot see how double standards operating at that level to this extent, as we saw the Iraqis Gulf Society event. We will leave it there.

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Richard Boyd Barrett, people before profits for delivery. Thank you very much for joining us. More followed, by the way, from all of this. Derek, Larry, who resigned as minister for agriculture last week, has resigned also as deputy leader of the Fianna Fail Party.