Latest: Coveney has 'total respect' for Air Corps after news emerges he challenged pilot who refused to fly over fog

Update 9.42am: Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney says he has total respect for all military personnel.

His comments come after it emerged he challenged an Air Corps pilot who refused to fly him to Cork for a meeting in 2015, because of fog, when he was Defence Minister.

Internal emails show the Air Corps being "very unhappy" with the minister's intervention.

On his way into this morning's Cabinet meeting Minister Coveney defended his record.

"I don't want to add to that story any further apart from to say that I have total respect for the judgement of military personnel whether they're in the Naval Service, the Air Corps, or in the Army.

"I think my record will show that when I was Minister for Defence," he said.

Update 9.05am: Fianna Fáil has said it is extraordinary that the Foreign Affairs Minister would challenge a pilot who refused to fly him to Cork because of fog.

Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath has said Simon Coveney needs to outline what happened.

"There are documents and emails so clearly the issue escalated to quite a serious degree.

"I think that for his own sake he should come out and clarify whether or not he did indeed challenge the pilot because there's an issue raised about the tone of the exchange as well," he said.

Earlier: The Foreign Affairs Minister questioned the judgement of an Air Corps pilot who refused to fly him to Cork because of predicted fog.

The Irish Times reports Simon Coveney had tense exchanges with pilot in 2015 while Minister for Defence.

Internal emails show the Air Corps being very unhappy with the minister's intervention.

Department of Defence official Cathal Duffy wrote: “The Minister phoned the pilot shortly after Vincent was informed at 7.05am that the mission had to be cancelled.”

Minister Coveney was understood to be unhappy about missing a meeting in Cork because of the cancelled flight.


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