By Cate McCurry, PA
A Sinn Féin TD has accused Simon Coveney of spinning a “cock and bull” story to a committee about the controversial appointment of Katherine Zappone.
John Brady said he did not believe a word that “came out of Minister Coveney’s mouth” when the foreign affairs minister gave his account of events on Tuesday.
Mr Coveney indicated that Ms Zappone had misunderstood a conversation they had about a possible UN role earlier this year.
Text messages from Ms Zappone in early March showed she thanked him for the “incredible opportunity”, but Mr Coveney said she had not been offered a role at that point.
For the second time in a fortnight Minister Coveney came before an Oireachtas Committee with an elaborate cock and bull story which nobody believes and which is flatly contradicted by the facts.
The question now is what is the Taoiseach going to do about it @MichealMartinTD
— Mary Lou McDonald (@MaryLouMcDonald) September 7, 2021
Mr Brady said: “Unfortunately what we saw today was the minister try to spin a new yarn, a cock and bull story and quite frankly a story that nobody believes, that Katherine Zappone was not offered a position, least of all back on March 4th.
“It is something we don’t buy, the facts don’t lie, that data doesn’t lie, the released documentation doesn’t lie.”
The Wicklow TD said it was “incumbent” on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to confirm whether he has confidence in his own government minister.
“It’s incumbent now for the Taoiseach to act, to rule out cronyism, which is at the heart of his government. Not only has the committee on foreign affairs been misled, the public being misled, he as the Taoiseach has also been misled,” Mr Brady added.
“He had been kept in the dark around the entire process, right up until the Cabinet meeting, despite the fact that a number of senior Fine Gael Cabinet ministers knew at least four months out.
“He needs to break his silence and speak out and state whether he has confidence in the Minister for Foreign Affairs and what he is going to do. He cannot allow a two-tier in his own Cabinet.”
The TD did not go as far as calling for the Minister to resign or for Mr Martin to sack his minister.
Ms Zappone was appointed as UN special envoy on freedom of expression, however the former children’s minister stepped back from the position after a storm arose around the manner of her appointment.
Mr Brady said it was “clear” that a job offer was made to Ms Zappone back in March.
Committee members are to meet next week to consider a proposal to invite Ms Zappone to appear at a hearing.
Mr Brady said it was “essential” that the committee hears from her.
Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan said Ms Zappone should appear “for her own dignity”.
“Would she not like to clarify the record, what exactly did she think she was being offered on March 4th?” Ms Boylan added.
“Simon Coveney has made her to look like the fool, that she didn’t know what she was talking about when she lobbied the UN ambassador.”