Zappone lobbied Simon Coveney for Special Envoy role

The Taoiseach said Mr Coveney has been 'at pains' to point out that he was not trying to pull a fast one at Cabinet
Zappone lobbied Simon Coveney for Special Envoy role

Simon Coveney and Katherine Zappone. File Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

Former Minister Katherine Zappone personally lobbied Simon Coveney for the €15,000-a-year Special Envoy job which she was given without an open competition.

The Government moved to quell the mounting political controversy but is facing calls from Opposition TDs for the appointment to be scrapped.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has come in for intense criticism from his own party TDs and Senators for not blocking the appointment, of which he was not given any advance notice, as revealed by the Irish Examiner.

Mr Martin said Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney accepted it was an “oversight” not to have informed him of the name in advance of Cabinet.

The Taoiseach said: “Minister Coveney has accepted it was an oversight in terms of procedures”, adding: “we move on now. 

"It’s an issue you have to keep in perspective and leave it at that".

Mr Martin said Mr Coveney has been “at pains” to point out that he was not trying to pull a fast one at Cabinet.

However, Fianna Fáil TDs have criticised Mr Martin for failing to block the appointment despite his concerns, describing their leader’s stance as “weak”.

Offaly TD Barry Cowen hit out at the manner of the appointment and said it should have been postponed.

Mr Cowen said: "If I was sitting at a table and I hadn't all the information that I felt should be available to me to make a decision, ultimately I wouldn't allow a decision to be made. 

"Obviously, they will say that the right information was put in front of them. So, let's hear what it is and let's move on."

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar accepted Mr Martin should have been told but rejected as “nonsense” that it was a crony appointment.

It is understood that under the terms of her appointment, Ms Zappone is entitled to:

  • A salary for up to a maximum of 60 days a year worth €15,000;
  • International travel and hotel stays paid for by the taxpayer;
  • Access to a secretary
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs has said there are no additional payments toward Ms Zappone's ministerial pension, clarifying what had been earlier reported.

It has also transpired that Ms Zappone held a meeting with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe at a restaurant near to the Department of Finance on July 19, but a spokesperson for Mr Donohoe insisted it had nothing to do with Envoy position.

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