Simon Coveney dismisses suggestions he tried to intimidate pilot who refused to fly in fog

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has rejected claims that he tried to intimidate a pilot who refused to fly him to Cork for a meeting in 2015, because of fog.

The incident happened when Mr Coveney was Minister for Defence and emerged after internal emails which show the Air Corps being "very unhappy" with the minister’s intervention were made public yesterday.

Speaking in the UK, where he was meeting with politicians in relation to Brexit, Mr Coveney said he did not feel reports about the incident reflected the truth.

"That wasn’t the situation," he told RTÉ News. "I’m a hands-on Minister in this brief like I have been in all of the briefs that I’ve held. I’ve picked up the phone and I’ve spoken to captains on ships in the Mediterranean, I’ve spoken to lead officers in the Golan Heights so I understand the issues that they’re facing to make sure that we understand them.

"This was another example of a hands-on conversation that I would have had but it certainly was not an attempt to influence a decision or to intimidate anybody. Anybody who knows me and has worked with me would know that that is not my style. I am an energetic and at times forceful minister, but I drive myself harder than anybody else that I work with and I have the utmost respect for the Defence Forces and the decisions that they make.

"I have huge respect for the Defence Forces in Ireland and I think it’s regrettable that this story seems to be telling a different story to that, which of course I’m not happy about and I don’t think reflects the truth."

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