Department of Foreign Affairs apologises for lockdown champagne celebration

The Department of Foreign Affairs has conceded it “did not meet the standards expected of it” when about 20 staff members held an impromptu champagne celebration.
Department of Foreign Affairs apologises for lockdown champagne celebration

James Cox

The Department of Foreign Affairs has conceded it “did not meet the standards expected of it” when about 20 staff members held an impromptu champagne celebration after Ireland was elected to the United Nations Security Council in June 2020.

Secretary general Niall Burgess tweeted a photograph on the evening of June 17th, 2020 showing himself and other staff members celebrating Ireland’s success in winning a place on the Security Council after the first round of voting, The Irish Times reports.

The group, all without face masks, was not socially distanced, as they were pictured raising champagne glasses in a toast in Iveagh House.

It was a breach of the Covid-19 restrictions that were in place at the time.

Others in the photograph were the deputy secretary Brendan Rogers and John Concannon, director general of the department’s Global Ireland division, according to The Irish Times.

The tweet was quickly deleted, and Mr Burgess apologised in a tweet the following day.

In a statement issued on Wednesday night a Department spokesman said that it has implemented all Covid-19 guidance and has further briefed staff to ensure rules are followed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The Department did not meet the standards expected of it with this gathering and we are sorry that it happened.”

The statement highlighted the fact that Mr Burgess publicly apologised for the gathering the next day on June 18th, 2020.

It also said that the Department maintained a limited number of staff on site during the pandemic to deal with essential services.

“The UN Security Council campaign team was working in a large open plan area of Iveagh House throughout the day of 17 June 2020.

“When the result of the UN Security Council vote was announced and it became apparent that Ireland had won a seat in the first round, Departmental guidelines were not followed,” it said.

 

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