Review to be held into role of UN envoys following Zappone scandal – Taoiseach
6th September 2021
A full review is to be conducted into the role of UN envoys, with appointments to be done by public competition, the Taoiseach has said.
It comes in the wake of the Katherine Zappone controversy, which dragged on throughout the summer, after her appointment as special envoy on freedom of expression.
The Department of Foreign Affairs is to publish a series of documents on that appointment, which Government hopes will draw a line under the issue.
The Taoiseach said: “I think it’s important that we have transparency in relation to this issue. I also think it’s important that we in Government learn lessons from this.
“I think there needs to be a full review of the role of envoys into the future, the added value they may or may not bring to certain situations.
© Provided by PA Media Katherine Zappone (Niall Carson/PA)
“I think that the Department of Foreign Affairs should conduct a full review in relation to that.
“And that if there are to be any further appointments into the future, that they will be done by open public competition.”
Speaking from Cork on Monday, the Taoiseach said there are “lessons we have to learn from this particular episode”.
He added: “I think the transparency will flow, hopefully, from what is published today.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney is to appear before the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday, to clarify his previous submission on the matter.© (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images) Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney
Committee chairman Charlie Flanagan said there were “inconsistencies” in the testimony given to the committee by Mr Coveney in an appearance last week.
The Taoiseach said Mr Coveney would answer questions “in a comprehensive way”.
Last week, it emerged that Mr Coveney had deleted texts related to Ms Zappone, which he said he did as a result of a phone hack in 2020.
Asked if the incident had damaged Government, Mr Martin said he remains focused on the key challenge of dealing with the pandemic.
He said: “That’s my big focus. I think, not withstanding the need for transparency on these issues.
“I think we need to provide that, we need to learn lessons from it and take on board what others may have to say as well.”
He added: “In terms of the Government perspective on it, we are going to obviously learn lessons from it.
“And as I said, make certain changes in relation to how we do this into into the future.
“But I do believe you know that as I’ve said, we need a sense of perspective in relation to it.”