Taoiseach: Zappone should release any copies of texts she has about special envoy role


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.50 2 Sep 2021


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Katherine Zappone should release any copies of text messages she has between herself and Simon Coveney about the controversial special envoy role, the Taoiseach has said.

Micheál Martin says any information that's available about the role should be published.

However, he also said he's not going to let the Government "be destabilised over a part-time envoy position".

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It comes amid the ongoing political fallout over the Merriongate controversy and the appointment of Katherine Zappone to a special envoy role (an appointment she has since turned down).

Pressure is growing on the Government about the matter, with the focus this week turning to the publication and deletion of text messages around the issue.

Simon Coveney has defended his decision to delete messages from his phone, saying that he pays particular attention to security after his phone was hacked in 2020.

He has “completely rejected” any suggestion he misled an Oireachtas committee when he appeared before it earlier this week.

On The Hard Shoulder today, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said Ms Zappone should release any copies of texts she has between herself and Minister Coveney.

She said "texting is a two-way street, so those in receipt also have a record of them".

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the show any texts available should be released for "full transparency".

He suggested that "any information that's there should be made available".

Taoiseach: Zappone should release any copies of texts she has about special envoy role

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However, the Taoiseach - who announced the Government's new housing plan today - insists he wants to focus on issues "of substance" rather than the ongoing political row.

He said: “The Tánaiste’s been very clear he didn’t know about [the role] until he got that text from Katherine Zappone.

“[Minister Coveney] has explained to me. I think he [now] wants to go before the committee to give a comprehensive account of it all.

“I keep focused on the big issues. These [political] issues do bubble up… I just don’t allow them to distract me."

The Taoiseach said he's also “not going to be drawn into” a Fine Gael vs Fianna Fáil row.

He observed: “I’m very clear as Taoiseach: I signed up to a programme for government on the key issues as I see them… big-ticket items.

“I’m not going to be distracted - I’m not going to let Government be destabilised over a part-time envoy position.”

He said the agreement was that such issues would be brought before the coalition party leaders before going to Cabinet, but that didn't happen on this occasion.

He said Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney have apologised for the mistakes made in the process, and he insisted similar incidents "will not happen again".


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Katherine Zappone Leo Varadkar MerrionGate Micheál Martin Simon Coveney Taoiseach

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