A man who had to say goodbye to his brother through the glass of a nursing home window has branded the ‘golfgate’ dinner “a disgrace”.
Padraig Byrne climbed on a bench to peer through a window and say his final farewell to his 70-year-old brother at a care home at the height of the pandemic.
The heart wrenching image of him sneaking a moment with his sibling Francis through the window of St Luke’s Hospital in Rathgar went viral on social media.
Francis died of Covid-19 and an angry Padraig this week blasted guests at the Oireachtas Golf Society bash in Clifden, Galway which prompted a national backlash.
He said: “When you think of this golfing outing and imagine them all dressed up in their shirts and ties and wining and dining – when my brother passed away he was wrapped in the sheets he passed away in.
“The body bag was just zipped up, there was no suit or fine clothes sent in. We had to abide by restrictions and the rules and yet these people can go around wining and dining.
“It is an absolute disgrace.”
Padraig called on the VIP guests, including under-fire EU Commissioner Phil Hogan, to apologise to frontline workers.
“These people should come up to Tallaght hospital or any other hospital and apologise to the frontline workers,” he said.
“Frontline workers are wearing masks up to 12 hours a day to stop the spread of Covid and abide by the rules, and yet these people have rules for themselves and can do what they want.”
The Byrnes are one of countless families who missed out on funerals, weddings and family events and feel furious over the golf dinner which had 81 guests.
“There was no funeral when my brother passed away, that was the end of it. No family seen him,” Padraig told RTE’s Liveline.
“He was taken down to the mortuary and that was the end of it. The restrictions were very tight at the time and we had to go along with it.
“Young people are mixing a bit more and what message is it sending to them, ‘we can all have parties now’.
“There’s too much at risk and these are our leaders and they knew what they were doing. They should not have gone ahead with that.”