This morning, August 21, Fine Gael senator Jerry Buttimer has resigned as Leas Cathaoirleach of the Seanad following his attendance at a social event with more than 80 people.
The event was reportedly held 24 hours after tightened nationwide COVID-19 regulations were announced and included restrictions on indoor gatherings to just six people.
The Irish Examiner originally reported that Buttimer was among the attendees of the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Galway.
Attendees of the event were strongly criticised as the event was not compliant with public health guidance advising against large public gatherings to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
It is reported that the European Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan also attended the event having just returned from Belgium.
Visitors from most EU countries, including Belgium, are required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in Ireland. Hogan claims he fully complied with guidelines.
The news was met with public outrage, with hundreds of tweets being directed at Buttimer for an explanation as to his involvement.
Jerry Buttimer is the second politician to resign following the controversy. While resigned as Leas Cathaoirleach, Buttimer retains his seat as a Senator.
The Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary announced his resignation as Minster this morning, he retains his seat as a TD.
— Senator Jerry Buttimer (@jerrybuttimer) August 21, 2020
In a statement, Buttimer said: “It was an honour to be elected Leas-Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann but my attendance at a dinner event in Galway this week has compromised the government at a time when people, across every sector of Irish society, are doing their best to keep all safe during this global pandemic.
“It was [an] unintended but serious lapse of judgement in attending the event. I should not have attended the dinner and I hereby tender my resignation as Leas Cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann to the Cathaoirleach of the 26th Seanad. I apologise unreservedly for my actions this week.
“For the last six months, this country has come and worked together, to defeat Covid-19. It is an ongoing battle and our collective societal response is important and our individual actions matter. I wish everyone success in this fight.”
Gardaí have confirmed they are investigating the event for alleged breaches of COVID-19 regulations.
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