Mary Lou McDonald: "Very difficult" to see how Simon Coveney stays on as minister 2 months ago

Mary Lou McDonald: "Very difficult" to see how Simon Coveney stays on as minister

"I think it's very hard to see how the minister remains in the position given that we have had eight weeks of this controversy".

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said it is "very difficult" to see how Minister Simon Coveney can stay on in government given the recent controversy surrounding the special envoy role offered to Katherine Zappone.

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In a press conference on Wednesday, McDonald said Coveney's behaviour is "not of the standard" Sinn Féin expects from any minister of government.

"I know the Taoiseach has said that Minister Coveney was wrong, that his behaviour was wrong," she stated.

"So, the question now arises as to what the Taoiseach is going to do about this."

McDonald said there needs to be an "appropriate sanction" for Coveney and called on Taoiseach Micheál Martin to set out a course of action today.

"In the event that he is not prepared to act, well then Sinn Féin will," she added.

Asked if the party would table a no-confidence motion in the minister, she replied: "It could come to that."

She also said: "I think it's very hard to see how the minister remains in the position given that we have had eight weeks of this controversy".

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Foreign Affairs Minister Coveney spoke before an Oireachtas committee on Tuesday morning where he acknowledged creating a "political embarrassment" over the controversy surrounding the special envoy role offered to Katherine Zappone.

Coveney told the committee that Zappone did not "at any stage" ask him for a job and that he did not make a job offer in early March in spite of text messages recently published from this time where Zappone thanks him for the opportunity.

This was four months before the position was discussed by Cabinet.

On Tuesday night, a statement was issued from a spokesperson for the Taoiseach which said the approach and process surrounding the selection of a UN special envoy was wrong and "should not have happened in the way it did".

"The Minister for Foreign Affairs has apologised to the Taoiseach and Minister [Eamon] Ryan for this," the statement read.

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"Minister Coveney has now given his account to the Oireachtas Committee on the chronology of events that led to the appointment, joined by his former Secretary General.

"That said, lessons need to be learned by the government on the handling of this issue."

However, Mary Lou McDonald has accused Coveney of repeatedly changing his story over the past eight weeks, adding that "there is absolutely no credibility to anything he is saying."

“He continues to deny that a job offer was made in March," she said.

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“He continues to deny that there was lobbying.

“He kept information from the Taoiseach for more than four months.

“He destroyed departmental records, which he is obliged to keep under the law.

“This is not behaviour that is acceptable from any minister."

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