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06th Sep 2021

Paschal Donohoe says he was never lobbied by Zappone about Special Envoy role

Clara Kelly


“I had no reason at all to speak to Leo Varadkar about it.”

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said that he was never lobbied by former Minister Katherine Zappone about the UN Special Envoy role.

He told Newstalk’s On The Record programme on Monday that Zappone approached him late last year “regarding a future in the UN”, adding that he suggested she contact Coveney for advice which he mentioned to him in early 2021.

“I had no further engagement with Minister Coveney on the matter,” he said.

He said that “never, at any point” did Zappone lobby him about the role.

Donohoe added that he had a conversation with Zappone about her future and knew she and Coveney were in discussion about the possibility of a role through conversations they had shared “as a friend”.

“I knew that through the discussions I’ve had with Katherine as a friend,” he said.

“I had one discussion with Simon Coveney that happened in the early part of this year, in which I’d said to Simon that Katherine was thinking about her own future in the context of international organisations and would it be okay if he made contact with her.

“I knew there were discussions taking place, but I was informed about the memo coming to Government that morning.”

He said his initial conversation with Coveney happened in January or February and that they did not discuss the position again after that.

He added that he “had no reason at all to speak to Leo Varadkar about it.”

It was revealed on Monday that 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 on Monday 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.

“As you know I am working with UNFPA till mid or end of June. Thank you again so much Simon – especially when you have so much on your plate. I spoke with paschal too yesterday. Warmest, Katherine.

Last month 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.

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