Stephen Donnelly says he ‘can’t answer definitively’ if the Taoiseach can sack Coveney
7th September 2021
© Sasko Lazarov via RollingNews.ie
HEALTH MINISTER STEPHEN Donnelly has said he “can’t answer definitively” if the Taoiseach has the power to sack Fine Gael cabinet member Simon Coveney.
Coveney is currently facing a make-or-break grilling before the Foreign Affairs Committee where he is being quizzed over the planned appointment of Katherine Zappone as Ireland’s freedom of speech envoy to the UN.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs is being asked to run through the entire timeline of events which led to Zappone landing the role.
In an interview on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio One, Donnelly said: “This is a coalition and in a coalition government, one party does not tell another party who they can and can’t have at Cabinet.
Pushed further on the Taoiseach’s power to remove Cabinet members, Donnelly hastened to add: “I don’t believe the Taoiseach has expressed that about Minister Coveney.”
However, under the constitution, the Taoiseach has the power to seek the President’s approval to remove any member of Cabinet.
The particular article of the constitution reads: “The President shall, on the advice of the Taoiseach, accept the resignation or terminate the appointment of any member of the Government.”
While the Taoiseach has the power to sack Coveney, it is thought in political circles that this move – unless Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar also backs it – would lead to the collapse of government. Donnelly himself said he thinks Coveney should not have to resign over the saga.
“I don’t think he should resign. I think he has made an error. I think he got it wrong. I think it’s right and proper that the documentation has been released. People make mistakes,” he said.
In his opening remarks to today’s committee, Coveney said: “The first thing I want to do is apologise to all the committee members for creating the circumstances that require a second hearing in a week, on the same issue of the appointment of a special envoy.
“Due to the sloppiness of some of my answers to your legitimate questions last week, we are back here again in order to, I hope, bring clarity to any outstanding issues once and for all.”