The Negative Noise Around Phil Hogan


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Last night, the political correspondent for RTÉ’s current affairs department Katie Hannon, above, spoke to Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ’s Prime Time about former Environment Minister Phil Hogan’s bid to become a new EU Commissioner.

Miriam O’Callaghan: “We all know it’s this week that we’re going to find out, but is it looking like Agriculture, Katie?”

Katie Hannon: “It is looking like agriculture. I understand it’s now going to be Wednesday. We thought we’d get this announcement tomorrow but I’m now hearing it’s going to be Wednesday. And, as of now, the talk is that Phil Hogan is tipped to get the agriculture portfolio and I think that would be seen as a win for Ireland, it would be seen as a good result. It’s perhaps, not the top, top tier of portfolios, it’s second tier, but a portfolio that’s important to Ireland. So I think they’ll be pleased if that’s how it works out on Wednesday.”

O’Callaghan: “Is he in any real jeopardy?”

Hannon: “Well I think he’s certainly going to come under considerable pressure over the next couple of weeks. We have this unprecedented situation where, and this is reflection of how the election went last May for the European Parliament, but we now have five of our 11 MEPs, Irish MEPs, opposing the Irish nominee for Commissioner. And that’s really unprecedented. And we even have a sixth, Marian Harkin who is reserving her position until she says, she sees what portfolio he gets and how he performs before that committee. And two of those objecting MEPs, Matt Carthy from Sinn Féin and Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, the Independent MEP, they’re actually sitting on the Agriculture Committee, so if that is the portfolio he gets, they will be facing those two MEPs, amongst the other members of that committee for the grilling that he must get before he is ratified as commissioner. So, I think, one way or another, it’s going to be a pressure time, for Phil Hogan.”

O’Callaghan: “In terms of issues, what are the issues likely to be raised?”

Hannon: “Well, we know already that the Independent MEP Nessa Childers has written to all the members of the Social Democrats group, that’s 191 members of the European Parliament. And she’s told them about events surrounding letters that Minister, the then Minister Hogan, wrote in relation to the housing of a Traveller family in his constituency in 2012. This was a fairly big controversy at the time here. Phil Hogan has always maintained that he never did anything wrong in relation to this, that he was merely representing the concerns of his constituents, and he stands over that. But Nessa Childers has, as I say, written to all these MEPs, has been highly critical of his move there and has said his appointment, in relation to this would be a step back for equality. So, it remains to be seen if any members of the Socialist group have bite in relation to that.”

O’Callaghan: “And Sinn Féin of course, they’ve also raised concerns, haven’t they Katie?”

Hannon: “Sinn Féin have yeah. Sinn Féin have a long, have been raising concerns about Phil Hogan for some time. We’ve known, of course, that Phil Hogan was our likely nominee for quite some time now and Sinn Féin have been to the forefront of questioning of his suitability for the job. They have a long list, they’ve talked about what they say is cronyism, appointments to State bodies, they talked about how he handled the planning inquiries, that were ongoing in his department, when he was at the helm of that department, in 2011, and, of course, now they’ve gone big on the Irish Water issue. And we’ve had this new, that controversy has, of course, blown up over the weekend, more questions raised about what Phil Hogan knew about the spending on consultants in that department and even more so, not even what he knew but how candid he was when he was asked questions about that. And, certainly, from what, the documents that came into the possession of RTÉ’s This Week programme yesterday raises serious questions about how candid he was in relation to those issues so that’s definitely going to be in the ether as the Commission nominees are announced this week.”

O’Callaghan: “So what do you think? What’s your instinct? Will any of this stick? Is it likely to cause him any serious problems or not Katie?”

Hannon: “Well, I think he can certainly look forward to some pretty uncomfortable few hours, before the committee, whatever committee he ends up sitting before, getting his grilling. You’d have to say that he has weathered these storms domestically, up to now. And you’d wonder, if that’s the case, why should they sink him in Europe, if he’s managed to shrug off any political damage in relation to these, up to now. So that’s in his favour. But, I mean, people have fallen at this hurdle before. In 2010, there was a Bulgarian nominee, there was questions raised about her husband’s links with the Russian mafia in the German Press. She had a very poor performance before her committee, she was withdrawn before the Commission went ahead. There was, famously, the Italian nominee in 2004, Butilone – his issue was he had particular views on homosexuality and marriage, he have very conservative, Catholic views. There was a fear that they might cut across the portfolio the was offered. He was offered the civil liberties portfolio and, again, he was withdrawn, so it’s not unprecedented but it’s a big deal if a nominee has to be withdrawn. The other difficulty, the only other difficulty I think that’s been raised with me this evening was that events might overtake matters. So, let’s say, a Socialist nominee had to be withdrawn for whatever reason, the Socialists might come for a scalp from the European People’s Party. And, in that kind of scenario, all this negative noise around Phil Hogan might make him vulnerable.”

Watch back in full here

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24 thoughts on “The Negative Noise Around Phil Hogan

  1. Hosannah in the Hiace

    this has more to do with politically unpopular but necessary decisions like water meters and Septic Tank inspections. Phil Hogan is a bogeyman for the fringe clowns like Ming and the Shinner thugs

    1. Clampers Outside!

      The traveller incident
      Donegal planning scandals
      Irish Water

      None of these have anything to do with tough or unpopular decisions…. there are more incidents, I just haven’t had a coffee yet. He’s unfit for purpose basically.

    2. bisted

      …Can I just remind you that clown Ming and the shinner thugs have an electoral mandate…unlike big Phil who is being offered this sinecure to save further embarassment for FG at home.

      In fairness, Big Phil would beat all comers in acting the clown or general thuggery.

      1. Outta me Bento Box

        Hogan won his seat democratically and was nominated by the democratically elected PM like every other nominee.

        Will the nut jobs be objecting to all other nominees so?

    3. Odis

      Oh come on its a lot more than that!
      This appointment justifies just about every claim made by the likes of Nigel Farage, and Daniel Hannan on the EU’s lack of democracy and cronyism.

    4. Spartacus

      “…..fringe clowns like Ming and the Shinner thugs”

      That’s the kind of dismissive language I’d expect to hear from Phearless Phil himself.

  2. Jess

    You have to wonder. Is everyone else using the commision to dump their ‘pain in the hole’ politicians as well and thats why the commision is so completely useless and inherently dickish?

    1. Rob_G

      The Commission aren’t useless or dickish. They are the reason that all phones (well, apart from iPhones) use the same charger. And why roaming is a lot cheaper than it was a few years ago.

      Most of their work isn’t very engaging or interesting, but it does yield positive results.

      (I don’t work for the EC, btw, but the European project is close to my heart).

  3. Al

    All Phil has to do is keep calm in front of a committee for a few hours and then it’s plumb job and pension pot

  4. Mcbab

    Why on earth would irish politicians try and scupper another irish politician getting such an important portfolio as agriculture? seems childish and petty to me. Putting their own agendas before what would be good for the country.

    1. Frilly Keane, Anyone?

      But that’s exactly what Edna Kenny did.

      He needed Phil Pogram off the Fine Gael front line.

      Job done.

      If Ends put Ireland’s interest first he’d a nominated Mairead Muckguiness.

  5. The Bould Podgy Quill

    A lot more needs to be made of the corruption issue – not just his shutting down of all the (inexpensive) investigations into planning corruption, because FG councillors were up to their oxters in it. There’s been no mention of the fact he awarded the lion’s share of water-metering contracts to a company owned by Michael Lowry’s special friend, Denis O’Brien (a company he bought for a song off a state-owned bank despite being outbid by €15 million).

    By the way, lol @ the lads saying criticising Hogan is doing down the country, as if the odious creep ever did a thing in his life for the country. He’s Pee Flynn Mk. 2. His nomination is purely due to internal FG politics and his standing by his man during the coup. Máiréad McGuinness would have been a dead cert for Agriculture. Would’ve been more qualified (not that that’d be hard) and Juncker said he wanted more women on this commission and would reward the countries who complied with his request. But she was very lukewarm in her support for Enda during the heave and he’s even less of a fan of her would-be substitute MEP. As with ministerial appointments, these are the only factors taken into account.
    “Think of the country!” Rofl!

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