29 Jun 2022

Longford-Westmeath TD says "more questions" still to be answered over Zappone special envoy controversy

Longford Westmeath Sinn Féin TD Sorca Clarke  says Commission must address Defence Forces working conditions and poor pay

Longford-Westmeath Sinn Féin TD Sorca Clarke

Longford-Westmeath Sinn Féin TD Sorca Clarke has said Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney’s appearance before the Committee on Foreign Affairs this morning has raised "more questions than it answered".


Mr Coveney made a second appearance before the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs within a week after inconsistencies emerged in the account he gave last Tuesday of the process leading up to Ms Zappone's appointment as a special envoy on July 27th.

Ms Clarke, who sits on the Committee, questioned Mr Coveney over his assertion that the job wasn't made for Zappone, when the documents released yesterday show she wrote the specification, influenced the duration, and submitted her own brief.

The Longford-Westmeath TD also questioned why Katherine Zappone was lobbying the Secretary General of his department from a company, of which she was previously director and shareholder, despite this company having been struck off in 2017. 
Ms Clarke said: "Katherine Zappone uses a company, which no longer has a legal existence, to send the Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs lobbying emails for this position. She basically wrote the job description. All of this seems highly unusual.

"I also take issue with the Minister use of the Zappone’s campaigning on LGBT issues as a mudguard to protect their highly questionable actions, and to try frame rightful criticism of these actions, as tantamount to homophobia or anti-trans sentiment.

"This is the kind of cynical weaponisation of these causes, which in actuality undermines their very nature, which Fine Gael so frequently reach for as a line of defence. I think it’s appalling."

Mr Coveney apologised for “sloppiness” and for making mistakes in the past few weeks in explaining the circumstances around the appointment.

However, the Minister has insisted Ms Zappone never asked him for a job at any stage, and he said he never made her a firm offer last March – some four months before the official offer was made to her.

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