Fianna Fail’s Minister of State for European Affairs, Thomas Byrne, has told EU Trade Commissioner, Phil Hogan ‘Nobody is irreplaceable’.

And in a thinly veiled hint that he feels Hogan should step down, the Meath East TD, who was a senior FF negotiator in the talks that led to the formation of the current government, said, ‘There is a danger that the support and solidarity we enjoy with the EU may be seriously undermined by the continuance in office of Phil Hogan’

Byrne, who is clearly angry over the GolfGate affair that has seen his party colleague and long time friend, Dara Calleary resign as Agriculture Minister blasted, ‘ Anybody in politics is replaceable, that’s why we have elections.

‘It’s why we have ministerial accountability to the Dail, it is why we have procedures for Commissioners to follow.

‘It is the case that the European Commission cannot take instructions from national governments that is written into EU law.

‘However, it is also the case that Commissioners are required not to do anything that is incompatible with them carrying out their duties as a Commissioner.

‘Phil Hogan’s actions not alone in relation to the Kildare lockdown but in his attendance at this golf dinner damages the publics’ confidence in the European Union as well and I think the EU president,

Ursula von der Leyen has to take this into account.’

Byrne was equally irate with what he feels is a hypocritical stance by Sinn Fein over the affair.

He blasted, ‘I am not going to take any lectures from Sinn Fein on this from a party that saw hundreds of members in white shirts, black tie and black trousers and go to a funeral.

‘Michael Martin and Leo Varadkar have sacked people because they went to this, absolutely wrong, golf event, yet Sinn Fein have absolutely justified their position in relation to Bobby Storey’s funeral.

‘Thousands of us have been unable to attend the funerals of loved ones due to Covid – 19 restrictions and Sinn Fein feel it is okay for their members to do what they did, so I certainly won’t be taking any lectures from them.’