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Zappone was told of UN role months before Cabinet approval, texts reveal

The Foreign Affairs Minister offered Katherine Zappone a UN role four months before the appointme...
Newstalk
Newstalk

16.59 6 Sep 2021


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Zappone was told of UN role mo...

Zappone was told of UN role months before Cabinet approval, texts reveal

Newstalk
Newstalk

16.59 6 Sep 2021


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The Foreign Affairs Minister offered Katherine Zappone a UN role four months before the appointment was agreed by Cabinet.

Text messages between the pair have been released by the Department of Foreign Affairs this afternoon.

On Thursday March 4th, Katherine Zappone texted Minister Simon Coveney thanking him for the "incredible opportunity" and said she will be so proud to serve Ireland again.

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Messages from Katherine Zappone to Simon Coveney Messages from Katherine Zappone to Simon Coveney

She added: "Thank you again so much Simon - especially when you have so much on your plate.

"I spoke with Paschal too yesterday."

Speaking on The Hard Shoulder after the texts were released, Minister Paschal Donohoe said he knew Ms Zappone and Minister Coveney were in discussion about the possibility of a role.

He said: "I knew that through the discussions I've had with Katherine as a friend.

"I had one discussion with Simon Coveney that happened in the early part of this year, in which I'd said to Simon that Katherine was thinking about her own future in the context of international organisations and would it be OK if he made contact with her.

"I knew there were discussions taking place, but I was informed about the memo coming to Government that morning."

He stressed that "never, at any point, did she lobby me about it".

Messages

Ms Zappone sent an earlier message on February 22nd, expressing her interest in getting an "intro to Sam Power" - the former US ambassador to the UN.

She said the then newly appointed US President Joe Biden's interest in women's and LGBTQ issues was "very much in sync with our/Irish foreign policy".

Ms Zappone also told the Department of Foreign Affairs Tanaiste Leo Vardakar was really excited about her appointment, five days before the Taoiseach was informed about the role.

It comes after texts released last week showed she had asked the Tánaiste about taking up a UN special envoy role 11 days before Cabinet approved her nomination.

In an email sent to the Secretary-General of the department on July 22nd, Katherine Zappone confirmed she had texted Minister Simon Coveney about the timeframe of her new role and the details of the job.

Documents released by the Department show the remit of the role was altered following a meeting between the Secretary-General and Ms Zappone.

In an email sent on June 6th from Ireland's UN ambassador Geraldine Byrne Nason to a department official, Ms Byrne Nason said Katherine Zappone had been in touch asking about her nomination as LGTBQ envoy.

She said Ms Zappone said there had been "radio silence" from the minister about the position.

Email from Geraldine Byrne Nason to Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Niall Burgess Email from Geraldine Byrne Nason to Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Niall Burgess

Other documents released show Ms Zappone reacting to the growing controversy after her appointment was announced.

On Wednesday, August 4th, she told Minister Coveney she believed it was best if she released a statement "in conjunction with communication from you or your department".

The documents have been released in an attempt to bring clarity to the process behind the appointment, ahead of Minister Coveney's appearance before an Oireachtas committee tomorrow.

Ahead of the release of the documents, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there needs to be a full review of the role of special envoys.

He said any future appointments will be made by “open public competition.”

Reporting by Kacey O'Riordan and Stephen McNeice
Main image: File photo of Katherine Zappone. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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