Simon Coveney spent ten minutes with staff on night party was held in breach of Covid-19 guidelines
- 14:24, 6 Jan 2022
- Updated: 14:34, 6 Jan 2022
EMBATTLED Simon Coveney spent ten minutes with staff on the night a party was held in breach of Covid-19 guidelines – but he’s adamant he wasn’t at the bash.
There was an impromptu knees-up at the Department of Foreign Affairs where members of the minister’s staff downed expensive champagne to celebrate Ireland winning a seat on the UN security council.
The party, which was held when the country was in a strict lockdown in June 2020, came to light after a photograph then-secretary general Niall Burgess appeared on Twitter.
The since-deleted snap showed staff wearing no masks and they had no regard for social distancing.
“At no point during that day did I attend a Champagne celebration.
“I was in Government Buildings for the UN Security Council vote.
“It was at this time a photograph was taken at Iveagh House that showed DFA officials breaching Covid guidelines.”
He added: “I had no prior knowledge of this impromptu gathering in the workplace.”
It comes as Taoiseach Micheal Martin revealed Department of Foreign Affairs officials who held a champagne party during Covid-19 restrictions last year will not be punished.
The party happened at a time when Covid-19 restrictions meant that people could not leave their county and could not meet in groups larger than seven.
The Department of Foreign Affairs has since apologised for the party and claimed it was a “moment of happiness” and “lessons have been learned.”
Former secretary-general Niall Burgess is now Ireland’s ambassador to France and Monaco.
NO FURTHER ACTION
Taoiseach Micheal Martin yesterday claimed the champagne party was wrong but said the Government would be taking no further action.
He said Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney did not attend the party.
The Taoiseach said: “I think the Minister for Foreign Affairs has made it clear in respect of that and he made it clear that he wasn’t at that event.
“It wasn’t the right thing to do. It was wrong. It shouldn’t have happened.
“But that said, the apology has come from the principles involved. It was a lapse of judgement in relation to what happened.
Asked if there would be punishment for any of the officials involved, he said: “No, we don’t intend to pursue it any further.”