'Cronyism at its finest' - Letters to Taoiseach show reaction to Zappone appointment

One letter said: “Dear Micheál, I am using my freedom of expression to tell you how angry I am about that ‘makey up job’ for that woman.” 
'Cronyism at its finest' - Letters to Taoiseach show reaction to Zappone appointment

A Fianna Fáil supporter wrote to say that the Taoiseach Micheál Martin (pictured) had been badly undermined by Minister Simon Coveney and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin was pilloried by members of the public over the controversial appointment of Katherine Zappone as a UN envoy.

Documents released by his department detail more than two dozen complaints received over the course of just three days after news leaked of the proposed job.

One email described it as “cronyism at its finest”, said it smacked of political patronage, and was an “outright abuse of power”. Another said it showed “very poor judgment” and that it was a case once again of “jobs for the boys and girls”.

A Fianna Fáil supporter wrote to say that the Taoiseach had been badly undermined by Minister Simon Coveney and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar.

“Sorry for the [late] time [of writing] but I am having trouble getting to sleep,” said an email. “Along with most of the public, I am livid … furthermore the way the two boyos seem to have sucker punched the leader of Dev’s [de Valera] party on this is disappointing.” The department was also forwarded correspondence from Fine Gael TD Joe Carey asking if the Taoiseach could address the issues raised and respond directly.

A copy of the letter said: “This really pushed my buttons today as it is obvious that this FFG government has lost complete touch with the majority of people in this country who are struggling to just get by.” Another email said the Taoiseach was being treated with “contempt” by his colleagues in Fine Gael. “Her time as minister for children was a disaster,” said the email.

One member of the public said their blood was boiling over what they described as a “mumbo [jumbo] UN envoy for self-expression” position.

Another jokingly asked if they could be considered for an envoy position, given there was no open recruitment process surrounding them.

Their email said:

I’d like to ask for a special envoy job, seeing as the government seem to give them out to their mates and with a non-transparent application process.

One correspondent said they were “fuming” with how the process had been conducted secretly.

“The role that you played in this is central to the appointment,” said the message, “and to do this without any open competition is quite annoying in that people like myself, a taxpayer, get to have no say in it or apply for the role either.” Another email said simply: “Never ending! The appointment [is] scandalous. More of it. Take a bow!” 

The department even received a handwritten note on the controversy. It said: “Dear Micheál, I am using my freedom of expression to tell you how angry I am about that ‘makey up job’ for that woman.” 

The letters were among a small number of records released by the Department of the Taoiseach about the appointment almost two months after they were sought.

Cabinet records relating to the appointment have been withheld and the only other records declared were a couple of pieces of correspondence between the Department of Foreign Affairs and government secretary general Martin Fraser.

One email from July 27 said the envoy role would probably involve 50 days of work in the first year with a per diem payment based on civil service rates.

It added: “Some travel will be necessary (including through a number of country visits to support the work of the Embassy network) and any official travel costs will be reimbursed at the same rate as would apply to officials.”

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