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*Photograph: John Mangan

Kilmihil GP, Dr Michael Harty has issued an apology for attending a controversial Oireachtas Golf Society in Galway this week.

Dr Harty was among over 80 people who attended the sitting in Clifden on Wednesday which is now the subject of a Garda investigation having breached COVID-19 regulations regarding the amount of people permitted at an indoor gathering.

An independent Clare TD from 2016 to 2020, the Limerick native served as Chairperson of the Dáil Health committee during this time.

After details first emerged from The Irish Examiner over the event, Dara Calleary (FF) has resigned as Minister for Agriculture with Senator Jerry Buttimer (FG) stepping down as Leas Cathaoirleach of the Seanad. Ex RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke was listed as being at the same table as Dr Harty.

On Saturday, Michael confirmed in a statement that he attended the dinner on Wednesday and called the decision “a serious lack of judgement and concentration on my part for which I take full responsibility.

He stated, “I wish to apologise unreservedly to my profession, my patients, the people of Clare and the wider community. To attend this dinner showed very poor deliberation and leadership. I put myself in a situation which breeched Public Health guidelines. I attended the event without thinking or applying common sense and should have realised that such a gathering was not appropriate in the midst of a pandemic. I again take full personal responsibility for what was a clear breech of Covid 19 pandemic guidelines and recommendations from NPHET and the Government. I acknowledge the hurt and distress my actions have caused.

“My attendance undermined the commitment and sacrifice that everyone has made in controlling the spread of Covid 19 while keeping our population safe, reopening our schools and trying to keep the economy functioning. This was a breech of social cohesion and trust. The lesson for myself is to critically think about every situation I am presented with and to apply the principals and guidelines of Public Health advise and to act accordingly”.

Harty said that his attendance at the dinner “does not reflect how I normally conduct myself or practice my profession. Since the onset of the pandemic I have advocated for and supported all measures to control the spread of the virus. This personal lapse of mine has been a serious breech of my adherence to the public health principles of keeping our population safe. I can assure you this will not happen again”.

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