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Eamon Ryan’s chief-of-staff and Department of Children secretary general both attended Katherine Zappone’s controversial party

Katherine Zappone. Photo: Colin Keegan

Katherine Zappone. Photo: Colin Keegan

August 04 2021 09:05 PM

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan’s chief-of-staff and the Department of Children’s secretary general attended Katherine Zappone’s controversial party in The Merrion hotel.

Mr Ryan’s most senior political appointee, Donal Geoghegan, attended the controversial event as did Ms Zappone’s former secretary general Dr Fergal Lynch.


Mr Geoghegan worked with the Independent ministers in the last government and is now the Green Party leader’s joint chief-of-staff.

A Green Party source said Mr Geoghegan attended the meeting for a short time and understood the gathering was in compliance with health regulations.

A number of officials from the Department of Children accompanied Dr Lynch to the event which was attended by around 50 guests.

A Department of Children spokesman said: “The Government has been advised by the Attorney General that regulations provide for organised outdoor events and gatherings of up to 200 people, including social, recreational, exercise, cultural, entertainment or community events.

“The event to which your query relates was not therefore in breach of the regulations,” he added.

Labour Party TD Ivana Bacik earlier confirmed she attended the event in the five star luxury hotel.

Following queries to Ms Bacik and the Labour Party, a spokesperson confirmed the recently elected Dublin Bay South TD attended the party.

“Deputy Bacik was briefly in attendance for approx. 15-20 minutes at an outdoor event organised by Katherine Zappone on 21st July. Deputy Bacik understood that the event was within Government guidelines,” a spokesperson said.

Ms Bacik’s Labour Party colleague and director of elections, Duncan Smith, has criticised Ms Zappone’s party.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said he is “confident” Government Covid-19 restrictions were not breached by his attendance at Katherine Zappone’s party in The Merrion hotel.

However, the Tánaiste conceded updates will have to be made to guidelines for parties in hotels to “ensure that people have clarity about how future organised outdoor events may operate”.

Mr Varadkar said he confirmed with Ms Zappone and hotel management that the outdoor party was compliant with Covid regulations before he attended.

“I was present for about 45 minutes, spoke to Dr Zappone briefly and listened to her speech before returning to work. The event took place entirely outdoors,” he said.

“I always strive to adhere to Covid restrictions and as a public representative I try to be extra careful in that regard. Government regulations permit organised outdoor gatherings and events of up to 200 people.

“There were about 50 people present. The definition in the regulations includes social events as well as recreational, exercise, cultural, entertainment or community events. I am confident these regulations were not breached. This matter has been checked with the Attorney General,” he added.

Mr Varadkar added that accepts “mistakes were made in the manner in which Dr Zappone was appointed a special envoy and regret the controversy it’s caused”.

Fred Bassett writes with a little smattering of jealousy, wonders if there would have been an invite for him to such an elite venue, one of the most expensive hotels in Dublin, home to the Troika when they came to reclaim Ireland Inc from bankruptcy in 2008. Good choice Ms Zappone but it would be interesting to hear who paid for the Reception? Then one would ask, if appropriate, what was the cost of this elitist gathering at the Merrion hotel, opposite Dail Eireann? Nothing but the very best and the most expensive too.

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