Zappone not everyone’s choice of candidate for the UN position, but Adored by Leo, and Eamon the Sleeping Looney? Now, Calling Big Phil, Dara and Barry, well Boys, Call out the Lame Duck Martin, and Ask him, What Heads will Roll here…………None? Coveney is no Squeaky Clean Blue Shirt, the Mask fell off Simple Simon.

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‘Put my doorman back on’ — Zappone refuses to comment on cronyism scandal from plush NY apartment

5th August 2021


Reporting by Daniel Bates In New YorkKatherine Zappone wearing glasses and standing in front of a large city landscape© Provided by Extra.ie

Katherine Zappone became angry and refused to comment on the cronyism scandal plaguing her and the Government when approached at her home in New York on Wednesday.

After eight days of attempts to get the former minister to discuss her controversial appointment as a special UN envoy, she batted away our reporter over an intercom, saying: ‘This is my private residence. Put my doorman back on so he can escort you off the premises.’

Katherine Zappone, who lives in upmarket Manhattan, on Wednesday decided not to take up the controversial post on freedom of expression and when asked to comment on this, she again fumed: ‘Put my doorman back on.’Katherine Zappone wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Katherine Zappone became angry and refused to comment on the cronyism scandal plaguing her and the Government when approached at her home in New York on Wednesday. Pic: RollingNews.ie© Provided by Extra.ie Katherine Zappone became angry and refused to comment on the cronyism scandal plaguing her and the Government when approached at her home in New York on Wednesday. Pic: RollingNews.ie

The ex-children’s minister Katherine Zappone spoke on a phone from her plush New York apartment on Manhattan’s wealthy Upper West Side.

It costs around $2,800 (€2,370) per month to rent a one-bedroom apartment in the building, while two-bedroom apartments are around $3,800 (€3,200) per month.

While she continued to evade commenting on the debacle, her old cabinet colleague Leo Varadkar was on Wednesday night scrambling to save face over his attendance at an exclusive function held for Ms Zappone. Notably, this occurred just days before she was announced as a new envoy before the Dáil rose for the summer.Katherine Zappone wearing a blue shirt: Katherine Zappone spoke on a phone from her plush New York apartment on Manhattan’s wealthy Upper West Side. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos© Provided by Extra.ie Katherine Zappone spoke on a phone from her plush New York apartment on Manhattan’s wealthy Upper West Side. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Pressure continues to mount on the Tánaiste, who was among 50 guests to attend the outdoor soirée marking Ms Zappone’s ‘farewell to Ireland’ at the five-star Merrion Hotel on July 21.

Mr Varadkar on Wednesday night said that he ensured the Merrion Hotel event was compliant with COVID-19 regulations prior to attending and cited confirmation from the Attorney General Paul Gallagher.

‘I always strive to adhere to COVID restrictions, and as a public representative I try to be extra careful in that regard,’ he said.Katherine Zappone, Leo Varadkar are posing for a picture: While Katherine Zappone continued to evade commenting on the debacle in New York, her old cabinet colleague Leo Varadkar was on Wednesday night scrambling to save face over his attendance at an exclusive function held for Ms Zappone. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos© Provided by Extra.ie While Katherine Zappone continued to evade commenting on the debacle in New York, her old cabinet colleague Leo Varadkar was on Wednesday night scrambling to save face over his attendance at an exclusive function held for Ms Zappone. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

Mr Varadkar said that Government regulations permit organised outdoor gatherings and events of up to 200 people and that there were about 50 people present.

The event took place six days prior to the Cabinet signing off on Ms Zappone’s newly created role as Ireland’s UN Special Envoy to Freedom of Opinion and Expression. After a week of controversy, she on Wednesday announced she would not be accepting the role.

In a statement, Ms Zappone said that she was honoured to have been appointed but that ‘it is clear that criticism of the appointment process has impacted the legitimacy of the role itself’.Katherine Zappone, Leo Varadkar posing for the camera: Pressure continues to mount on the Tánaiste, who was among 50 guests to attend the outdoor soirée marking Ms Zappone’s ‘farewell to Ireland’ at the five-star Merrion Hotel on July 21. Pic: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie© Provided by Extra.ie Pressure continues to mount on the Tánaiste, who was among 50 guests to attend the outdoor soirée marking Ms Zappone’s ‘farewell to Ireland’ at the five-star Merrion Hotel on July 21. Pic: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

She said she still believes that role can only be of ‘real value to Ireland’ if the appointment is acceptable to all parties.

‘For this reason, I have decided not to accept this appointment, and I have communicated my decision to the Minister for Foreign Affairs,’ she said.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, said that he accepted that ‘mistakes were made in how this appointment was brought to Government and lessons will be learnt from that’.a man standing in front of a car: Mr Varadkar on Wednesday night said that he ensured the Merrion Hotel event was compliant with COVID-19 regulations prior to attending and cited confirmation from the Attorney General Paul Gallagher. Pic: Fran Veale© Provided by Extra.ie Mr Varadkar on Wednesday night said that he ensured the Merrion Hotel event was compliant with COVID-19 regulations prior to attending and cited confirmation from the Attorney General Paul Gallagher. Pic: Fran Veale

However, while both Ms Zappone and Mr Varadkar continued to insist they were informed by the Merrion Hotel that it was compliant with COVID regulations, Fáilte Ireland guidelines for hospitality state that such functions are not permitted.

However, despite the Government’s message that similar events should not take place, it said the regulations permitted it. Restaurants Association of Ireland chief Adrian Cummins said of the event: ‘Our understanding was that all outdoor events for more than six people at a hotel were not permitted.’

The Government has been resisting pressure in recent weeks to allow First Holy Communions and Confirmations to proceed, and yesterday the Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell described the rules prohibiting such events while allowing others ‘discriminatory’.Simon Coveney wearing a suit and tie: The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, said that he accepted that ‘mistakes were made in how this appointment was brought to Government and lessons will be learnt from that’. Pic: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie© Provided by Extra.ie The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, said that he accepted that ‘mistakes were made in how this appointment was brought to Government and lessons will be learnt from that’. Pic: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

Indeed, TDs in the Government have hit out at the ‘one rule for them’ anger that is discernable following Ms Zappone ‘MerrionGate’ event, which has strong echoes of last August’s Golfgate furore.

Green Party TD for Dublin Central Neasa Hourigan said she had been inundated with complaints from families ‘upset’ that they had to cancel Communion and Confirmation events.

‘On that basis, I cannot fathom what kind of justification there could be for a social gathering of 50 or more people prior to a political appointment,’ she said.

Fianna Fáil TD for Sligo-Leitrim Marc MacSharry also decried the party, saying it demonstrated the ‘blatant inconsistency and discriminatory nature’ of some restrictions that he said had been ‘blindly rubber-stamped by Government’.a woman smiling for the camera: Green Party TD for Dublin Central Neasa Hourigan said she had been inundated with complaints from families ‘upset’ that they had to cancel Communion and Confirmation events. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos© Provided by Extra.ie Green Party TD for Dublin Central Neasa Hourigan said she had been inundated with complaints from families ‘upset’ that they had to cancel Communion and Confirmation events. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

There was widespread anger in the Fianna Fáil party last night over the turn of events involving Ms Zappone’s selection for a specially created UN envoy role and the MerrionGate party that preceded this.

A number of influential figures, including ministers and those TDs fomenting dissent against Micheál Martin’s leadership, spoke on the surging internal anger at the Merrion revelations.

It is believed that Mr Varadkar’s attendance at the Merrion Hotel was, in the words of one, ‘a humiliation too far’.

Fianna Fáil TDs and senators are questioning the unequal treatment of Dara Calleary, who resigned as agriculture minister after attending a dinner as part of the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner during COVID-19 restrictions last August – dubbed Golfgate – less than a month after assuming office.Dara Calleary wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Fianna Fáil TDs and senators are questioning the unequal treatment of Dara Calleary, who resigned as agriculture minister after attending a dinner as part of the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner during COVID-19 restrictions last August – dubbed Golfgate – less than a month after assuming office. Pic: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie© Provided by Extra.ie Fianna Fáil TDs and senators are questioning the unequal treatment of Dara Calleary, who resigned as agriculture minister after attending a dinner as part of the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner during COVID-19 restrictions last August – dubbed Golfgate – less than a month after assuming office.

Fianna Fáil TD for Tipperary, Jackie Cahill, pointed to the similarities between the two events.

‘It’s 12 months ago since Dara Calleary was at a golf dinner along with other politicians and he had to resign immediately from it,’ Mr Cahill said. ‘There was a view that that dinner was ran in strict accordance with COVID regulations but still Dara had to resign immediately. There has to be questions answered from the Tánaiste on this issue, most definitely.’

Fianna Fáil senator Fiona O’Leary also asked how those who received severe punishment over Golfgate, many of them reprimanded by Mr Varadkar himself, were feeling about the seemingly unequal treatment.

‘Rules and regulations only work if they are governed consistently. I wonder how Seán O’Rourke, Phil Hogan and Dara Calleary are feeling? And their attempts to offload the blame to the venue is unacceptable,’ she said of the MerrionGate response.Phil Hogan wearing a suit and tie: Phil Hogan. Pic: Collins Courts© Provided by Extra.ie Phil Hogan. Pic: Collins Courts

In the aftermath of Golfgate, Mr Varadkar tweeted that the event shouldn’t have happened and that he understood how difficult the restrictions were for people.

The Government’s official spokesperson on Wednesday night clambered to shut down further questioning about the event, refusing to answer queries about which specific senior officials also attended.

Senior officials from the Department of Children attended the event but the department refused to confirm who attended, saying that the event was compliant with public health regulations.

Labour Party TD for Dublin Bay South Ivana Bacik confirmed she attended the event for 15-20 minutes. Labour said that no other of its members were in attendance.

The Green Party is refusing to say if any of its members were at the event. Fine Gael said it is not aware of any more of its members who attended, while all other parties said they were not aware of any of their members attending.

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