Taoiseach denies he knew about Katherine Zappone appointment before Cabinet

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said a memo had been with the Taoiseach's office the day before the controversy broke but Micheál Martin insists he was not informed of Ms Zappone's name before Cabinet
Taoiseach denies he knew about Katherine Zappone appointment before Cabinet

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has denied that he knew about the Katherine Zappone appointment before it was raised at Cabinet.

The Taoiseach has denied that he knew about the Katherine Zappone appointment before it was raised at Cabinet.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar this morning told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that the memo had been with the Taoiseach's office the day before the controversy broke.

However, in a statement issued this afternoon, the Taoiseach's spokesperson contradicted this.

“The Taoiseach was not informed of the name proposed for the appointment of a UN Special Envoy before Cabinet.

“Nor was he alerted at the leaders' meeting the evening before the Cabinet, and the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs have apologised for this.

“The first time the Taoiseach was aware that Katherine Zappone was being nominated for a role was at the Cabinet meeting, once the memo was distributed.

“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.

Speaking at the Fine Gael think-in Trim today, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said that he had spoken to Ms Zappone last week ahead of his releasing a statement on a conversation the two had had prior to her abandoned appointment as UN Special Envoy on Freedom of Expression.

Earlier today Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath also flatly contradicted Leo Varadkar’s claim that a memo naming Katherine Zappone was on the Taoiseach's desk the day before Cabinet.

Speaking to reporters this morning at new site for Logitech International in Cork, Mr McGrath said her name was not in the memo.

“In relation to the issue of the memo being with the Department of An Taoiseach before the Cabinet meeting, it is not the case that the name of the person proposed for appointment was in that memo.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath TD says he expects fellow Fianna Fáil deputies to vote with the government in the no-confidence motion against Simon Coveney.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath TD says he expects fellow Fianna Fáil deputies to vote with the government in the no-confidence motion against Simon Coveney.

“This was, in effect, an under the arm memo, which means it's brought to cabinet the morning of the Cabinet meeting itself, and that is the first time that the name of Katherine Zappone was shared with the Taoiseach and with all of the other Cabinet colleagues.” 

And when he was asked to clarify that what he was saying was that the memo that went to Micheál Martin’s office the day before the cabinet meeting did not contain Ms Zappone’s name, he said: “That is correct.” 

He described the whole controversy as “a sorry affair” and said it cannot happen again.

He also says he expects fellow Fianna Fáil deputies to vote with the government in the no-confidence motion against Simon Coveney.

I expect that all of the Fianna Fáil deputies will vote with the government and vote confidence in Minister Coveney when we have this vote later in the week.

“This issue has been well ventilated over recent weeks.

“It has been a sorry affair, major mistakes were made and, from my perspective, coalition government can only work on the basis of trust and mutual respect.

“And that was absent in this case, and it can't happen again.

“And from a Fianna Fáil perspective in government, we expect the full details of any future appointments to be shared in advance so that they can be considered and openly discussed in a proper way”.

Mr Varadkar’s spokesperson has been asked for a response.

More in this section

Let Me Tell You

Let Me Tell You is a new bespoke podcast series from 

Logo IE

Hosts Daniel McConnell and Paul Hosford take a look back at some of the most dramatic moments in recent Irish political history from the unique perspective of one of the key players involved.

Bespoke political podcast series from

Logo IE
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox

LOTTO RESULTS

Saturday, August 13, 2022

  • 3
  • 5
  • 7
  • 29
  • 35
  • 47
  • 46

Full Lotto draw results »