Golf Gate: We were all #InThisTogether, right up until we weren't
Last night, it was reported that former Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary attended an Oireachtas Golf Society event in a hotel in Connemara.
Calleary, who replaced former minister Barry Cowen following his unceremonious sacking from the role earlier this summer, attended the 80+ person event on Wednesday night, just 24 hours after the government announced new restrictions limiting at-home gatherings to six people and in-door gatherings to 50 people.
Calleary, who resigned this morning, issued an apology last night once his attendance at the event was confirmed by the Irish Examiner.
"Last night I attended a function I committed to a number of weeks ago, to pay tribute to a person I respected and admired greatly," he said.
"In light of the updated public health guidance this week I should not have attended the event. I wish to apologise unreservedly to everyone.
"We are asking quite a lot from everyone at this difficult time. I also offer this apology and my sincere regret to my government colleagues."
Last night I attended a function I committed to a number of weeks ago, to pay tribute to a person I respected and admired greatly. In light of the updated public health guidance this week I should not have attended the event. I wish to apologise unreservedly to everyone 1/2
— Dara Calleary (@daracalleary) August 20, 2020
The apology, understandably, was not well received. If the incredible comment to share ratio on Twitter wasn't enough, the responses themselves were.
Hundreds of people informed Calleary that they were forced to miss funerals, christenings, and weddings because of government restrictions, only for him to attend a golf event with 80 other people.
Sick relatives were left to die alone, care home patients went months without visitors, and the vulnerable remained stuck indoors. These were the sacrifices we had to make to curb the spread of coronavirus. This is what we were told to do.
And this is, from what we can gather, what we are still being told to do. The economy may have opened back up, but the health and safety messaging remains the same: wash your hands, keep your distance, avoid large groups where possible.
Simple enough, or at least it should be. What began as a straightforward and unified approach to the virus back in March has descended into what can only be described as mild chaos.
Contradictory statements, quips about the dangers of trampolines, and senior ministers attending events that would have broken government guidelines were it not for the existence of a function room partition.
A couple of months ago, we were informed. We were concerned, but we were cautiously confident. We played by the rules and, for the most part, so did everyone else.
Calleary's resignation, for many, has come too late. As have the statements from other senior ministers, many of whom have (at the time of writing) said nothing.
Ministers who were so quick to condemn the event that took place in Berlin Bar last weekend, only to remain silent on social media as one of their own attends a planned event... with more people.
#GolfGate has unfortunately become a defining moment of this government's attempt to manage the coronavirus pandemic, a stark and almost unbelievable embodiment of the failings that have included but are not limited to Direct Provision clusters, cramped working conditions, and claims that driving a car is just as dangerous as a worldwide pandemic.
It's confirmation that we are, indeed, in a bit of a mess. It's a reminder that we were all in this together... right up until we weren't.