The best and the brightest, apparently, were at the golf get together. ‘Astute’, ‘shrewd’, ‘clever’ are words recipients of college degrees might use to describe the persons in attendance. ‘Wide’ and ‘slick’ are words you might hear in more working-class areas to describe the same people.
No matter who you were talking to, these well-educated men and women - although mainly men - had been around a while and were well familiar with the way the world worked. At least that was up until Wednesday August 19. There are far more colourful adjectives that are being used to describe the attendees at that "shindig" as Sinn Féin have aptly, and repeatedly, described it.
The biggest shock is almost not that the event was actually held, but that no one in attendance stopped to think and realise that it was not a good idea. Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny played as part of the Oireachtas Golf Club but did not go to the dinner. He had a reason for that, and it was unlikely due to diary commitments.
Why did organisers think it appropriate?
Oireachtas Golf Society Captain and Independent Galway West TD Noel Grealish, and former Senator Donie Cassisdy, signed off and authorised hundreds of invitations that were sent to current and former Oireachtas Members. What is almost as shocking is that while ‘only’ 80 odd turned up to the event, multiples of that many had been invited. From the get-go, it is obvious there was absolutely no regard for Covid-19 health guidelines.
'There was golf, dinner, drinks, and laughing - do not forget the laughing, that is important'
However, there has been no attention, or questions asked, as to why the organisers felt it was appropriate to send out hundreds of invitations at a time like this. That act alone shows the disregard the organisers showed towards the health guidelines advised by NEPHET and brought in by the Government.
Only 50, including hotel staff, can attend weddings. A maximum of 15 members of a family can get into a graveyard for a burial of a loved one. People have lost their jobs. There are severe restrictions visiting your mother, father, or grandparent in a nursing home. Giving them a hug and holding them is a complete no no. Hearts are broken. And yet, Deputy Grealish and company decided it was all right to send out hundreds of invitations for a ‘shindig’ in Connemara.
There was golf, dinner, drinks, and laughing - do not forget the laughing, that is important. This is a far cry from a person heading back up (again ) to the nursing home to see their loved one. What happens there is primarily crying, lots of crying. Tears fill their eyes. The reason? They are honouring the restrictions. Why? It gives their vulnerable loved ones a better chance of living longer.
'Is it a case of one law for some and another law for Dep Grealish? Time will decide. Time decides everything'
More importantly they know it also gives the loved ones of other people a better chance of living longer. Therein is exactly why the anger among the general public was and is real. The vast majority of the public have adhered to the guidelines, yet here are current and former lawmakers and law enforcers carrying on as if the rules did not apply to them. It was never going to wash.
There is no longer one law for politicians, another for the public
There were eight current Oireachtas Members in attendance: TDs Dara Calleary and Noel Grealish; Senators Niall Blaney, Paddy Burke, Jerry Buttimer, John Cummins, Paul Daly, and Aidan Davitt. Other notable public servants in attendance were Supreme Court Judge Seamus Woulfe and the now former EU Commissioner, Phil Hogan.
'The final point of ‘golfgate’ is that it was all the 'old guard' who were in attendance. There is a reason they are the 'old guard'.
Dara Calleary has resigned as Minister for Agriculture. All six senators have been suspended from their political party. While this may not mean a lot to the public, it can have grave implications for their present and political futures. Phil Hogan has resigned, and Justice Woulfe is under investigation by direction of the Chief Justice, Frank Clarke. But here is the thing, of the aforementioned, all have taken a penalty except Dep Noel Grealish.
Insider believes that as Captain of the Golf Society, and one of the main organisers, Deputy Grealish should not escape ‘scot free’. Or is a case of one law for some and another law for Dep Grealish? Time will decide. Time decides everything.
The final point of ‘golfgate’ is that it was all the 'old guard' who were in attendance. Insider includes all attendees, current and former Oireachtas Members in that description. There is a reason they are the 'old guard'. The ways and attitudes of the political classes of past times are no longer acceptable in the modern world. Lads brazening it out are a dying breed. Some may not realise that. Some did not realise it until August 20. They do now.
The public decides. They always had the power, but it took a monumental time such as we now live in to exercise that power. As one woman put it on Galway Bay FM this week, "I was always told, ‘you don’t say you care, you show you care’". Times have changed, some are just slower than others at realising that.