TDs and Senators seek to grill Katherine Zappone over UN role controversy

TDs and Senators seek to grill Katherine Zappone over UN role controversy

The Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee is to write to former Children's Minister Katherine Zappone asking her to appear before

The Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee is to write to former Children's Minister Katherine Zappone asking her to appear before it to discuss her botched appointment as UN Special Envoy on Freedom of Expression.

The committee, which has already grilled Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney twice on the appointment, will also ask for the Secretary-General to the Government Martin Fraser to appear. 

While two members raised concerns, there was no opposition to the move by committee chair Charlie Flanagan, the Fine Gael TD.

The controversy has rumbled on since July when Mr Coveney brought the appointment to Cabinet, "blindsiding" Taoiseach Micheál Martin. In a release of documents from the Department two weeks ago, messages appeared to suggest that Ms Zappone was offered the job as far back as March. However, Mr Coveney told the committee that Ms Zappone was mistaken and misunderstood the conversation the two had had.

On Monday, Mr Fraser was brought into the controversy when the Taoiseach's spokesperson said that an email from the Department of Foreign Affairs was sent to him the night before the Cabinet meeting.

“An email from the secretary-general of DFA to the secretary-general in the Department of Taoiseach was sent at 9.24pm on the night before Cabinet.

“This was not sent to anyone else in the Department until the following morning, when it was sent to the Government Secretariat just before Cabinet.”

An email from Niall Burgess, the secretary-general of the Department of Foreign Affairs to Martin Fraser, the secretary-general of the Department of the Taoiseach sent at the time outlined was part of the documents released by the Department of Foreign Affairs last week, but was completely redacted.

Sources said that the committee is not hopeful that Ms Zappone will appear, but do expect Mr Fraser to make himself available.

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