Katherine Zappone "respectfully declines" invitation to appear before Oireachtas Committee 3 weeks ago

Katherine Zappone "respectfully declines" invitation to appear before Oireachtas Committee

Zappone's proposed appointment to a UN Special Envoy Role created massive controversy.

Former Minister Katherine Zappone has rejected an invitation to appear before the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee.

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The committee agreed last Wednesday to invite the former politician who now lives in the United States to a meeting in Ireland.

The decision, taken during a private session, was initially proposed by Sinn Féin spokesperson on foreign affairs John Brady.

The letter, from Zappone on Monday read: "I acknowledge receipt of the invitation to meet with the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence.

"I respectfully decline."

Zappone, who faced controversy over her proposed appointment to a UN Special Envoy Role and subsequent gathering at the Merrion Hotel, hit headlines again this weekend after The Times reported she took a business class flight to Dublin from New York while in Government.

The then Children's Minister left her private secretary in economy class, on a 2019 trip she made as a special envoy for Ireland’s campaign to win a seat on the UN security council.

According to documents seen by the publication, Zappone had been given clear guidance by the Department of Foreign Affairs that it would only pay for economy tickets.

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However, the Department of Youth Affairs ended up paying the additional €2,877, with no evidence that they were reimbursed by Zappone.

Zappone was told about her appointment as UN Special Envoy four months ahead of the job being discussed by Cabinet.

In WhatsApp messages released by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Zappone said that she had also spoken with Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe about the position.

On March 4, Zappone texted Coveney saying: “Hi Simon, thank you so, so much for offering me this incredible opportunity. It will be such a privilege and I will be so proud to serve Ireland again. I think the time is really ripe for change too.

“Could you let me know the time period the appointment is for, and what are next steps," she added.

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It was reported that an event at Merrion hotel on 30 July was attended by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and around 50 other people, just days before the appointment of Zappone to the UN envoy role.

The event generated a significant degree of controversy since, not least as it was made without the knowledge of Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

Zappone has since confirmed that she would not accept the appointment to the role.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney appeared before the Dáil last week for a no-confidence vote after appearing before the Oireachtas Committee twice in regard to the Zappone controversy.

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Sinn Féin blamed a "culture of cronyism" in Government after the motion of no confidence filed by the party against Coveney was not passed. 92 TD's voted in confidence of the Minister as opposed to 59 against.

Main Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie.