Simon Coveney’s political future hangs in balance after papers reveal message of thanks for Zappone’s post
The explosive documents have landed him in hot water
Simon Coveney’s political future hangs in the balance today after it emerged he was apparently thanked by Katherine Zappone for giving her a UN job last March.
The revelation comes ahead of another Oireachtas committee showdown where the Foreign Minister is due to be grilled on when she was told she was in line for the post.
Mr Coveney is also set to be challenged on why he never let his boss, Taoiseach Micheal Martin, know while Fine Gael colleagues like Leo Varadkar and Paschal Donohoe knew about the process long before.
A series of more than 100 explosive documents, released by the Government yesterday, are what have landed the Foreign Minister in hot water.
It emerged Mr Coveney was apparently thanked by Ms Zappone for a UN appointment last March, despite the Cabinet not agreeing on a special envoy gig until late July, when the Taoiseach became aware of the move.
Ahead of the grilling today, one senior Fianna Fail frontbench TD, James Lawless, upped the ante last night after he refused to back Mr Coveney when asked if he should now resign over the affair, saying: “Well, let’s see what happens tomorrow [Tuesday].”
He also said it was “incredulous” that Mr Coveney appears to have deleted all the texts relevant to the controversy and that Mr Coveney needs to “come down off his high horse”.
Mr Lawless, the Oireachtas justice committee chairman, also told RTE’s Drivetime: “Frankly, I don’t think it’s good enough.”
The Greens are also insisting they knew nothing of the appointment until the day of the Cabinet meeting on July 27, despite another memo in March indicating they may have been in the loop months in advance too.
An information note on LGBTI+ actions prepared by Mr Coveney’s Department of Foreign Affairs and dated “March 2021” stated: “Minister O’Gorman expressed appreciation for the work the department is undertaking and indicated that he had recently met the (REDACTED) ambassador to discuss the situation facing LGBTI+ in that country.”
When this was pointed out to the senior Green minister in question, Roderic O’Gorman, who took over as Children’s Minister from Ms Zappone last year, a spokesman told the Irish Mirror: “Please note the department response is that the minister was informed of the appointment at Cabinet on July 27th.”
The key text message that will be central to today’s crunch committee meeting was sent by Ms Zappone to Mr Coveney on March 4.
It read as follows: “Hi Simon. Thank you so, so much for offering me this incredible opportunity.
“It will be such a privilege and I will be so proud to serve Ireland again.
“I think the time is really ripe for a change too. Could you let me know time period appointment is for and what are next steps.”
The same text revealed she had also been in touch with Fine Gael Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, as it continued: “Thank you again so much Simon – especially when you have so much on your plate.