Saturday 24 June 2017

Minister dances on the spot after flying home to fight for political life

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Damien Eagers
Children's Minister Katherine Zappone. Photo: Damien Eagers
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

"She's wearing black for a political funeral," quipped one reporter as Katherine Zappone timidly emerged from the revolving door at the front of Leinster House.

But the Children's Minister had flown 7,200km from the US to fight for her political life.

In an extraordinary performance, she danced on the spot like a boxer trying to dodge punches before landing the crucial one herself.

Since last Friday, Ms Zappone's place in Cabinet has been in doubt. The Taoiseach and Tánaiste stopped short of throwing her under the bus but they looked prepared to do it if necessary.

The minister's response was a clear message of: "If I'm going, you're coming with me."

She spoke for almost six minutes before taking questions, describing her sleepless night after hearing about the contents of the Tusla file on Sgt Maurice McCabe.

But everyone wanted to know if she didn't trust her Cabinet colleagues? Didn't her naïvety cause this whole situation? Had she considered resigning?

She didn't care what accusations were thrown at her - her conscience was clear.

"Uppermost in my mind was my concern to protect the McCabes," she said, pointing out that the allegations were not in the public domain at that stage.

And then she swung what could be a killer blow.

Enda Kenny was the "relevant Government colleague" she told about the Tusla file, albeit without briefing him on the details.

As for resigning herself - it never crossed her mind. "I'm the only Independent woman at the Cabinet table. I bring a unique perspective and want to continue to do that," she said.

The Taoiseach will no doubt have been more than a little perturbed by that unique perspective last night.

Irish Independent

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