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Fianna Fáil TD seeks meeting of party to discuss their position on vote of no-confidence in Simon Coveney

Coveney admits Zappone controversy is ‘frankly an embarrassment for me’ 


Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney

Fianna Fáil TD Marc MacSharry is seeking a meeting of his parliamentary party to discuss their position ahead of the Dáil no confidence motion vote in embattled Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

In a email to colleagues, Mr MacSharry said that “given the importance” of the Dáil agenda he believed it “imperative” that the party meet collectively to consider how they will vote in the motion tabled by Sinn Féin

“I am surprised such a meeting has not been already arranged and I would like to formally request that one be arranged and held no later than 4pm tomorrow,” the Sligo TD said.

“As democrats I am certain we all agree that we take a collective position rather than one decided for us or dictated by the one or the few without proper consideration by all members,” he added.

He said the meeting should be facilitated both “in person” and via video link as some members of the party “may still be on vacation or indeed on parental or maternity leave”.

Mr MacSharry’s comments come as Mr Coveney has said he is “frankly embarrassed” over the role he played in the political controversy sparked by his appointment of Katherine Zappone as a special envoy.

Speaking ahead of the Dáil no-confidence motion, Mr Coveney admitted he should have “taken the story more seriously” and been more transparent in answering questions about the appointment.

“I have to say this hasn't been my finest month in politics since this issue became a political issue. I should have dealt with it a lot earlier, with a lot more detail and a lot more transparency,” the minister said.

“Certainly my role in this has contributed to this becoming a political story that it didn't need to become. It is a real frustration and quite frankly an embarrassment for me to be the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons,” he added.

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He said “public trust has been damaged” over the process of appointing Ms Zappone which will have to be rebuilt ahead of other special envoy appointments.

However, the minister said he saw “no problem” and “no controversy” with the appointment until issues were raised after the Cabinet agreed to it.

Mr Coveney said he was “not trying to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes” in appointing Ms Zappone as a special envoy for freedom of opinion and expression.

“I just don't see why people see that as an arrogant thing to do. This wasn't about preferring anybody. It was about trying to develop a role consistent with what many other countries are doing internationally,” he said.

“There was no arrogance here, this was me trying to do my job,” he added.

Mr Coveney he would be “surprised” if Ms Zappone’s version of events would be different to his but stopped short of saying she should make a statement on the matter.

“I was releasing a lot of information or my department was releasing a lot of information the following day and I felt it was courtesy to give her a call to let her know that and nothing I said at committee would be inconsistent with Katherine Zappone’s view in my view,” he said.

Mr Coveney has consistently said he did not offer Ms Zappone a special envoy role despite texts messages from the former Children’s Minister indicating she had been offered a position.

Ms Zappone has not spoken publicly on the matter since the controversy emerged.

Mr Coveney said he did not breach Freedom of Information (FOI) rules in deleting texts messages from Leo Varadkar relating to Ms Zappone’s appointment. “I clear unnecessary information and lots of others do that as well but I certainly did not break any FOI rules,” he said.

This article was amended on September 14, 2021.

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