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Taoiseach: Zappone appointment 'could have been done better' but Government now 'moving on'

The Taoiseach says the appointment of a former minister to a special envoy role "could have been ...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.01 28 Jul 2021


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Taoiseach: Zappone appointment...

Taoiseach: Zappone appointment 'could have been done better' but Government now 'moving on'

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.01 28 Jul 2021


Share this article


The Taoiseach says the appointment of a former minister to a special envoy role "could have been done better" procedurally - but says the Government’s now "moving on" from the controversy.

He denied Minister Simon Coveney tried to pull "a fast one" on him through the appointment of Katherine Zappone to the newly-created position of Special Envoy for Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

Ms Zappone was the children's minister in the last cabinet as an independent TD, but she lost her Dáil seat in the last general election.

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Mr Martin was only made aware of the plans to appoint the former minister to the paid role at yesterday's Cabinet meeting.

Reports have indicated the Taoiseach was blindsided by the move, while there has been widespread criticism on social media about the appointment.

The Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney spoke about the issue over the phone last night.

Today, Mr Martin was asked if the Fine Gael Minister tried to pull a fast one by appointing a former colleague.

He said: “Simon Coveney is at pains to point out he was not endeavouring to do that at all.

“There were very weighty and substantive items on the agenda yesterday - that issue was not one of them in many respects.

“Yes, procedurally it could have been done better - but I think we’re moving on from it.”

The Taoiseach suggested today the Government may appoint more special envoys in the future, but he refused to guarantee a competitive appointment process will be used if those plans go ahead.

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Earlier, Fianna Fáil ministers have had to defend the controversy caused by their Fine Gael colleagues - with Darragh O'Brien and Stephen Donnelly both backing the move.

Minister O’Brien told The Pat Kenny Show he “really welcomed” the news - saying he thinks Ms Zappone will be “brilliant”.

He said the politician "clearly" has the expertise for the role.

Minister Donnelly, meanwhile, told Newstalk Breakfast he first heard the news at Cabinet yesterday.

However, he “totally rejected” any suggestion that this is a case of “jobs for the girls” - saying he believes she’ll do an “awful lot of good” in the new role.

Brenda Power, columnist with The Sunday Times, argued on Newstalk Breakfast that this "was clearly a jobs for the girls / boys appointment".

She said: "I would like to know on what basis Katherine Zappone was chosen for this job.

"You can't say this is anything other than a naked political appointment."

Main image: Katherine Zappone (left) and Micheál Martin (right). Pictures via RollingNews.ie

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