HSE disputes Hogan claim he could break 14-day quarantine after negative Covid-test

EU Commissioner says he was not a risk to anybody during Irish trip

EU Commissioner Phil Hogan says he was entitled to break the 14-day quarantine period in place for those arriving into the country from destinations not on the Government's so-called green list due to testing negative for Covid-19, contradicting advice on the matter from the HSE.

In a detailed statement and timeline concerning his most recent trip to Ireland, released on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Hogan said he was not obliged to self-isolate for 14 days after returning to Ireland from Belgium because he received a negative test for the virus during a hospital visit on August 5th.

“I am satisfied arising from the test that I did that proved it was negative that I was no risk to anybody,” he told RTÉ News in an interview following the release of the timeline.

However, the Department of Health has said HSE guidance states that when someone is restricting their movements because they are a close contact of a confirmed case or because they have travelled into Ireland from a non-green-list country, they must do so for 14 days. The guidance does not state that a negative Covid-19 test shortens the 14-day restricted movement requirement.


Mr Hogan has been under pressure since he attended an Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden on August 19th which was attended by over 80 guests in an apparent breach of Covid-19 guidelines.

He was urged by the Taoiseach and others including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to account for his movements since arriving in the country in late July until he returned to Brussels at the weekend, given the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Mr Hogan said he believed he was allowed to travel "because of the fact that I had a negative test, because my medical people said I was no risk to anybody. I checked with the Citizens Information website which is funded by the HSE , and I felt that I was no risk to anybody by going to Adare. "

The HSE Covid-19 advice line told The Irish Times travellers to Ireland must abide by the 14-day quarantine period, regardless of any negative tests for the virus.

This is because the virus could still be incubating at the time the test is taken. “A test is only a point in time,” the HSE explained. “So I’m afraid the 14 days still stands regardless of test negative or not.”

In a follow-up message on Twitter on Tuesday night, Mr Hogan said that he “never said” that he did not accept HSE advice, but was “taking issue at the proposition” put to him in the interview with Tony Connelly of RTÉ. “At all times, I acted in good faith on the basis of the information available to me,” he said.


A timeline of Mr Hogan’s movements published by him on Tuesday indicates he travelled to Adare in Limerick to play golf on August 13th, having arrived in Ireland on July 31st.

Mr Hogan said he self-isolated between his arrival in Ireland on July 31st and his negative test five days later. He said after the test his doctor told him he was free to go. “I looked at the Citizens Information website… It’s there in black and white if you do not have Covid-19 and you’re tested negatively you are not required to self-isolate.”

He also apologised again for attending the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden on August 19th.

“In hindsight I was wrong and a made a mistake,” he said. “I am embarrassed about it.”

Mr Hogan defended the two trips he said he made to Co Kildare, which was under lockdown from August 7th, saying they related to his work.

“I was covered by the regulations that my work-related activities and under the regulation there is a reasonable excuse mechanism that allowed me the exemption to do that.”

Regarding the Garda stopping him for using a mobile phone while driving from Kildare to Clifden, Mr Hogan said the gardaí “were doing their job and doing it well”.

He also did not object to information about this stop being passed onto Taoiseach Micheál Martin, who then called him to explain the matter.

However he said he was disappointed the news appeared in the press as it was “a private road safety issue.” He said the Garda was not entitled to leak details of the stop to the news media.

“At the end of the day there were no charges, no prosecution. The case is now closed.”

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times