Labour says it would support motion of no confidence in Coveney

SF calls on Taoiseach to sanction Minister over Zappone special envoy appointment

Coveney has denied he effectively offered Ms Zappone the special envoy job before his officials carried out the work to create it, and that her contact to him amounted to lobbying. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Coveney has denied he effectively offered Ms Zappone the special envoy job before his officials carried out the work to create it, and that her contact to him amounted to lobbying. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The Labour Party will support a motion of no confidence in Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney over his handling of the appointment of Katherine Zappone as a special envoy if one is tabled in the Dáil.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has called on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to sanction Mr Coveney and said she believes he should be sacked. She warned that the possibility of a motion of no confidence in Mr Coveney is “on the table”.

The Government has strongly rejected Opposition claims that the appointment of Ms Zappone – to the role she later declined amid the resulting controversy – amounted to “cronyism”.

Mr Coveney has denied he effectively offered Ms Zappone the special envoy job before his officials carried out the work to create it, and that her contact to him amounted to lobbying.

Support

Labour spokesman on foreign affairs Brendan Howlin said his party would support a Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in Mr Coveney, though it would not table one itself. He said Labour has no confidence in the Government in general.

Mr Howlin claimed that the special envoy role was created for Ms Zappone, that she lobbied for it and got it. He said that Mr Coveney has not accepted this “fact” and claimed: “he needs to make a statement to the Dáil next week, accept the reality of the situation that a non-existent role was created for a former colleague, that she lobbied for it and he acceded to that lobbying. That shouldn’t be the way business is done.

“He needs to make it crystal clear that no state appointment of any description will be done on that basis into the future.”

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy reiterated his party’s call for the Taoiseach to sanction Mr Coveney when asked if a motion of no confidence will be tabled.

Mr Carthy said: “We expect to hear from Micheál Martin. I expect and hope that he will be definitive in terms of actions being being taken. And following on from that, we will make a decision in respect of what Sinn Féin will do next week.”

Cross-Border

He defended appointments Sinn Féin made to cross-Border bodies in response to a suggestion that these could also be seen as cronyism.

Mr Carthy was asked about appointments such as Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan’s former role on the board of Safe Food Ireland and that of Pádraig Mac Lochlainn who was previously on the board of Intertrade Ireland.

He said that such appointments were “party political appointments”, allocated to parties in the North to make.

Put to him that Sinn Féin didn’t have to appoint party members to such role he agreed this was the case. However, he insisted: “Any person that we have nominated to any board at all, has always been on the basis of them being, in our view, the most suitably qualified candidate.” Mr Carthy said that in “all instances” they were based on “a process and on a set of defined considerations.” He argued that this was the “key difference” with the appointment of Ms Zappone where he claimed there was “no process”.