EU trade chief Phil Hogan “has undermined the whole approach to public health in Ireland,” Prime Minister Micheál Martin told journalists in Dublin on Wednesday.
“On behalf of the people, we had to make our anger known to the commissioner in respect of the breaches of public health guidance,” he said.
The Irish premier heaped more pressure on Hogan and the European Commission after a TV interview late Tuesday only inflamed questions about his breaches of coronavirus rules in the past weeks.
However, Martin stopped short of directly asking European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to remove Hogan from her team, stressing that under European law such a decision was for the European Commission rather than the Irish government.
“I have been very clear in honoring and observing that demarcation because it’s one that is founded in the European Union treaties,” he said, adding: “We’re not seeking to influence the president of the Commission.”
On Wednesday, the Commission said von der Leyen was still picking through Hogan’s public account of his actions and movements across Ireland since late July.
“The president continues considering the matter, she is examining and assessing carefully on the basis of that report,” Commission spokesperson Dana Spinant said, without giving any indication of when von der Leyen’s assessment would be complete.
“She will be ready to complete her assessment when she feels that she has the full picture,” Spinant added.
Martin found fault with Hogan for “various” breaches of Ireland’s coronavirus restrictions as well as for his “delayed and hesitant” response to the scandal, which first erupted last Thursday.
Nevertheless, Martin noted that Hogan “has performed well as a commissioner.”
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