Irish minister quits for ‘damaging national effort’ on COVID-19

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An initial apology late on Thursday on Calleary’s Twitter account received almost 2,000 replies within two hours, many from people angry that they could not attend funerals because of the rules or had to cancel holidays or weddings.

The Irish Times quoted a person who stayed at the hotel and did not wish to be named as saying that he saw no evidence of social distancing when the attendees arrived, that they were not wearing masks, and that they shook hands with one another.

Ireland’s police said it was investigating the event for alleged breaches of public health regulations.

Hogan, Ireland’s representative on the EU’s executive for the last six years, said in a statement that he attended the dinner on the clear understanding that the hotel had been assured the arrangements in place would comply with guidelines.

He added that he had complied fully with travel restrictions to self-isolate for 14 days, having been in Ireland since late July.

A senior member of the main Irish opposition party, Sinn Fein, said Hogan should resign over his attendance.

The deputy leader of Ireland’s upper house of parliament, a member of Fine Gael, one of three governing parties along with Martin’s Fianna Fail, also stood down.

Calleary was named agriculture minister last month when his predecessor was fired after news emerged of a drink-driving prosecution just two weeks into the term of Martin’s new coalition government. (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Additional reporting by Francesco Guarascio in Brussels; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Toby Chopra)

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