‘Some Fine Gael Ministers’ showed disrespect for office of Taoiseach
Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan has accused “some Fine Gael Ministers” of displaying disrespect for the office of Taoiseach, to the Fianna Fáil party and the Green Party.
Fine Gael had to realise that they did not operate “in a silo”, they were now in a coalition and they needed to ensure that “this does not happen again”, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne.
Mr O’Callaghan comments come after the controversy over the appointment of former minister Katherine Zappone to a UN special envoy role.
On Tuesday, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, gave evidence to the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs on the issue, rejecting claims that Ms Zappone lobbied for the position or that he breached Freedom of Information legislation by deleting texts between himself and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.
However, Mr Coveney did apologise for “sloppiness” and for making mistakes in the past few weeks.
Mr O’Callaghan said the controversy showed that the office of Taoiseach had to be protected. The behaviour of “certain Fine Gael Ministers” in the Zappone appointment had displayed “an extraordinary lack of respect” and they had behaved in a “very inappropriate way.”
That could not continue and Fine Gael had to change their attitude to governance. “This Zappone omnishambles has inflicted a lot of damage,” he said.
Mr O’Callaghan said the Taoiseach had the right to remove a Minister from office. “I’m not saying he should,” he added.
He said it was important there was recognition that the office of Taoiseach was the most important political office and deserved more respect.
However, he said he did not believe that sacking should be the first port of call for a Minister accused of wrongdoing.
Mr Coveney had apologised, he had mishandled the whole affair, but he was contrite, Mr O’Callaghan said.
It was fairly clear what happened, he said, that Ms Zappone had been trying to create a career for herself in the UN. Ireland Katherine Zappone could be questioned at Oireachta… Read More
When asked directly if he thought the appointment was cronyism, Mr O’Callaghan said he thought it was.
He said it would be helpful if Ms Zappone appeared before the Oireachtas committee, but it was already clear what had happened.
“Fine Gael need to recognise that they can’t continue to do Government business in this disrespectful way,” he said.
“This is not the way to run a Government, it’s too casual, you can’t run a country by text message. You can’t create a role when someone phones up.”