Taoiseach says Coveney has apologised  over method  of Zappone nomination

Eamon Ryan says news sequence of appointment was inappropriate
Taoiseach says Coveney has apologised  over method  of Zappone nomination

Simon Coveney and Katherine Zappone in 2016. The Taoiseach says Simon Coveney has apologised over method of appointment. Picture: Gareth Chaney 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has apologised for not informing him in advance of the appointment of Katherine Zappone as a special envoy.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said the manner in which the matter went before Cabinet was "inappropriate".

The appointment has been criticised by opposition TDs and some of those in government, in particular as the Taoiseach was not informed in advance of the item being raised at a meeting of Cabinet earlier this week.

Mr Martin has clarified that Mr Coveney and Ms Zappone "had a conversation and they met some time ago in relation to this” and said Mr Coveney "has to clarify the full sequence of that."

The Taoiseach, speaking in Dublin, stressed there is no issue with Ms Zappone but said the manner of appointment was a difficulty. Mr Martin said envoys won’t be appointed in the same way in future.

Prior to Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Mr Martin was not aware of the plan to appoint Ms Zappone, who served as an Independent minister in the Fine Gael-led minority government.

It was only at the meeting that Mr Coveney brought a memo with new plans for the State’s diplomatic arrangements.

The Department of Foreign Affairs moved to end confusion around the position by stating Ms Zappone will not benefit from any increase to her ministerial pension.

She will be paid a pro-rata rate on the basis of the principle officer pay scale, around 30 days to the end of this year and up to a maximum of 60 days in a full year.

Mr Martin said: “Clearly procedure wasn’t entirely followed in terms of the three parties. We have agreements that if people are being appointed, we give each other a heads up in terms of names.”

Mr Martin said that Mr Coveney apologised “very quickly after the [Cabinet] meeting”.

He said: “Simon Coveney has made it clear that he believes this is necessary in the context of the United Nations and he did say to me that he felt Katherine Zappone had made a contribution to the work that preceded the campaign in terms of getting membership of the [UN] Security Council. ”

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Ms Zappone had approached Mr Coveney about the New York-based job which will involve work with the UN and accepted that either he or Mr Coveney should have informed the Taoiseach of the planned appointment.

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