Several former Fine Gael members of the Cabinet, including Enda Kenny and Phil Hogan, failed to show up for a private dinner hosted by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last night to mark a decade of the party in power .
r Varadkar hosted the dinner for party colleagues who have served as part of three successive Fine Gael governments since it was returned to power in March 2011, in the private dining room of Leinster House.
“It’s something I had planned to do to mark the 10th anniversary in 2021, but the pandemic intervened,” Mr Varadkar wrote in the invitation sent to current and former Fine Gael colleagues.
“It would be great to get us all together again and for me to see you personally.”
Mr Kenny, the former taoiseach, was seen with his wife, Fionnuala, at an event to mark Queen Elizabeth’s birthday in the British ambassador’s residence in Glencairn on Tuesday night, but did not attend the dinner in Leinster House last night.
Also absent was former European Trade Commissioner Mr Hogan, who is now based in Brussels where he runs his own consultancy business, advising people engaging with the EU.
He resigned as Ireland’s EU commissioner two years ago following controversy over his attendance at the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden, Co Galway, and his movements around Ireland in the run-up to the event while a number of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions were in place.
Mr Hogan, who served as environment minister in Mr Kenny’s government between 2011 and 2014, has since criticised the manner in which he was treated by the Irish government at the time, including Mr Varadkar.
The Tánaiste, along with Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, called on Mr Hogan to consider his position days before he tendered his resignation.
Former justice minister Alan Shatter did not attend last night’s dinner.
He has been sharply critical of Mr Varadkar in the years since he resigned from the Cabinet over garda controversies in 2014.
A number of other former cabinet colleagues of Mr Varadkar were unable to attend, including ex-finance minister Michael Noonan, who said he had intended on going but could not as he was a close contact of a family member who has Covid-19.
Mr Noonan retired from politics at the last election.
Former health minister James Reilly, who lost his Dáil seat in 2016 and opposed Mr Varadkar in the Fine Gael leadership contest a year later, is understood to be out of the country.
Former tánaiste, justice minister and now MEP Frances Fitzgerald, who resigned from the Cabinet over garda controversies only five months after Mr Varadkar became taoiseach and party leader in 2017, was in Moldova on European Parliament business related to the Ukrainian refugee crisis.
Ms Fitzgerald’s successor as justice minister, Charlie Flanagan, was also out of the country last night and was unable to attend the dinner.
Former housing minister Eoghan Murphy, who was once a close ally of Mr Varadkar, was in Uzbekistan with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, with which he has worked since he quit politics last year.
Mr Varadkar’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on attendance at the event.