Mr Coveney asks us to believe that Ms Zappone is a mug. That she not only invented a job offer, she invented a start date for that non-existent job
Simon Coveney’s latest convoluted explanation of his handling of the botched appointment of Katherine Zappone does not just stretch credulity – it annihilates it, according to Social Democrats Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Gary Gannon.
“Mr Coveney has had multiple occasions to set the record straight in relation to the botched appointment of Katherine Zappone as UN special envoy, but he has failed to do so. The version of events he spun today, at the Foreign Affairs Committee, does not just stretch credulity – it annihilates it.
“Mr Coveney asks us to believe that, not only did Ms Zappone misapprehended that a job offer had been made by March 4th, she also misconstrued a start date. Ms Zappone’s text message to Mr Coveney on May 4th is clear: “You [Mr Coveney] mentioned June as a start time.” Mr Coveney tells us this explicit statement from Ms Zappone is a misunderstanding and her earlier exuberance, about the “incredible opportunity” she had been offered, was preemptive.
“In essence, Mr Coveney asks us to believe that Ms Zappone is a mug. That she not only invented a job offer, she invented a start date for that non-existent job. He asks us to come to this conclusion despite professing himself to be so impressed with her professional ability that he felt she was the only candidate who should be in the running for the role of UN special envoy.
“Mr Coveney’s definition of lobbying also raises very serious questions. The Minister doesn’t believe Ms Zappone engaged in lobbying as he didn’t feel any pressure from her. The fact that a highly connected person was attempting to influence senior ministers and diplomatic staff in relation to the awarding of a prestigious State job doesn’t amount to lobbying, in Mr Coveney’s view. This is neither credible nor sustainable.
“Mr Coveney’s idiosyncratic and self-serving definition of lobbying is so narrow as to be non-existent. It raises questions about whether he has the capacity to recognise, and report, lobbying when it occurs. This is obviously hugely troubling given Mr Coveney’s position as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence.
“In responding to this controversy, Mr Coveney could have held his hands up, admitted he acted incorrectly and determined to ensure any future appointment was open and transparent. Instead, he has sought to obfuscate, bluster, mislead and equivocate.
“The Minister has further admitted to deleting pertinent text messages in this fiasco, which are official records of government business. Bizarrely, he claims the reason he deleted messages was in some misguided attempt to maintain secure communications – even though he failed to store the messages, meaning they have now been effectively destroyed.
“The question that arises for the Taoiseach now is a simple one – is he the leader of the government or a leader of just Fianna Fáil? It’s certainly difficult to imagine Simon Coveney remaining as Foreign Affairs Minister if Mr Martin had any real authority as Taoiseach.”
7 September, 2021