More than 150 documents relating to Zappone to be published online

Release to include text and email correspondence between officials, Coveney and Zappone

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney: Texts deleted by Mr Coveney are not understood to form part of the tranche as no separate record was kept of them.  Photograph: Brian Lawless/ PA Wire

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney: Texts deleted by Mr Coveney are not understood to form part of the tranche as no separate record was kept of them. Photograph: Brian Lawless/ PA Wire

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The Department of Foreign Affairs will publish more than 150 documents on its website on Monday morning including several pages of WhatsApp messages between Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and former minister Katherine Zappone relating to her appointment as a special envoy to the United Nations.

The department has taken the unprecedented decision to release all documents in its possession on the circumstances surrounding the choice of Ms Zappone as an international envoy on LGBTI+ issues and freedom of expression.

It is understood that the release of 100 records, containing 150 documents, which were prompted by 20 Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, include text and electronic messages as well as email and paper correspondence between officials, Mr Coveney and Ms Zappone.

While the records contain the smart phone messages between Mr Coveney and Ms Zappone, they do not contain any messages between him and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, which Mr Coveney has said he deleted for security reasons, following his phone being compromised by an attack by hackers last year.

Opposition TDs have demanded in the past week that Mr Coveney divulge the date he deleted the texts, claiming they might have been done after the FoI requests had been made.

Last night a spokesman for the Minister confirmed the date for the first time, saying Mr Coveney and Mr Varadkar had texted each other on July 19th and “the Minister cleared that exchange shortly afterwards”.

The spokesman added: “The texts released by the Tánaiste showed Mr Coveney had been honest when he informed the committee of that text exchange.”

FoI requests were submitted over a week later, after July 27th.

The records being released by the Department will date from just before February 24th to early August.

The decision to appoint Ms Zappone was taken by Cabinet on July 27th. Taoiseach Micheál Martin complained no notice was given to him or Green Party leader Eamon Ryan. It subsequently emerged Mr Varadkar was aware of the appointment on July 19th, eight days before the Cabinet meeting.

The publication comes 24 hours ahead of a crucial second appearance by Mr Coveney before the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

Under pressure

Following sustained criticism of his previous account to the committee – chairman Charlie Flanagan of Fine Gael described his account as having “apparent inconsistencies” – Mr Coveney will be under pressure to clarify a number of statements he made.

Members are also expected to grill Mr Coveney on his practice of deleting texts, and why he deleted exchanges with Mr Varadkar but not with Ms Zappone. About 50 people attended an event at the Merrion Hotel in July, shortly before Ms Zappone’ appointment. She has since stepped away from the role in light of the public outcry.