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Minister Simon Coveney picking up the bad habits of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar - John Brady TD

1 September, 2021 - by John Brady TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs John Brady TD has said that Minister Simon Coveney’s ever-changing contradictory explanations regarding the appointment of Katherine Zappone to the made-up job of special envoy to the United Nations do not stack up.

Teachta Brady, who is also a member of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee, added that Minister Coveney appears to have picked up the bad habits of Tánaiste Leo Varadkar when it comes to deleting correspondence that should be subject to public scrutiny.

He has now called on the Tánaiste to urgently clarify whether he has retained his text message correspondences with Minister Coveney relating to Katherine Zappone’s Merrion Hotel event.

Teachta Brady TD:

“Minister Simon Coveney last night told the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs that he did not retain text message correspondence due to a lack of storage on his phone.

“Today, that story has changed once again as his spokesperson claimed that his phone had been hacked in the past, and that this was the reason why he deleted the text messages.

“These changing stories smack of someone making up excuses as they go along.

“This whole saga stinks to the high heavens, and none of this ever-changing yarn being spun stands up to any scrutiny.

“But what is worse is that it now appears that Minister Coveney is picking up some of the bad habits we have become accustomed to from his Fine Gael party leader, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, when it comes to deleting correspondences that are supposed to be retained and subject to public scrutiny.

“The Tánaiste previously admitted deleting correspondence relating to the document marked confidential that he leaked to his friend Dr Maitiú Ó Tuathail.

“It seems Minister Coveney has adopted a similar disregard for correspondence he is supposed to retain.

“Now that we know Minister Coveney has deleted that correspondence, the question has to be asked as to whether the Tánaiste retained his, or true to form, has he deleted those as well?

“This is a serious issue. My party colleague Pearse Doherty made a Freedom of Information request on July 30th for correspondence between Minister Coveney and Katherine Zappone.

“Fine Gael ministers should be aware that since 2015, a copy of correspondence made through private channels must be made available in a form that can be accessed should an FOI request be made.

“Furthermore, a person who destroys such a record following an FOI request has committed an offence.

“It is now five weeks since the appointment by Minister Coveney of his former ministerial colleague Katherine Zappone to the made-up taxpayer-funded role of UN special envoy for freedom of expression came to light.

“Yet five weeks later, Fine Gael’s explanations for the circumstances leading up to that appointment are still changing, and what is worse, they have evaded further scrutiny by deleting correspondence relating to those processes.

“Fine Gael’s response since this saga came to light has been one of petulance and a refusal to take responsibility for their actions.

“Let’s be clear. This was Fine Gael self-entitled stroke politics from day one, and Fine Gael don’t like that they have been called out on it.”

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