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15th Sep 2021

Simon Coveney survives no-confidence vote as Sinn Féin blasts “culture of cronyism”

Clara Kelly

Simon COveney

“By the Minister’s account, either he is very bad at communication, or Katherine Zappone is a dope.”

Sinn Féin has blamed a “culture of cronyism” in Government as the motion of no confidence filed by the party against Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney was not passed by the Dáil, with 92 TD’s voting in confidence of the Minister as opposed to 59 against.

Speaking in the Dáil on Wednesday ahead of the vote, party leader Mary Lou McDonald said that there is a “culture of cronyism at the very heart of this government”.

She added that Coveney “sought to make up a job for a former colleague and friend” and told a “cock and bull story” to Government twice.

“That is by any standard an abuse of office,” she said.

McDonald said that they decided to file the no-confidence motion because the Taoiseach “won’t do his job”, adding that the “toxic culture” is not just about Coveney but also a “shambolic, out-of-touch government”.

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy added that Coveney had brought an “unbelievable story” to the house.

“By the Minister’s account, either he is very bad at communication, or Katherine Zappone is a dope,” he said.

“Anyone who expects the Irish people to believe that story is either a dope themselves or believes the Irish people are.”

He said that he believes that Former Minister, Katherine Zappone, wanted a job in the UN which Fine Gael “bent over backwards” to offer her.

Members of the Labour party have also backed the motion, saying that the issue had distracted from policies by impacting public confidence in Government.

They said that Labour from the start has expressed no confidence in this Government and will do so again tonight. The Social Democrats also voted no confidence.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said that Coveney had always been “capable”, saying that “we need ministers who will take on critical roles” and he can “see absolutely why a minister would say Katherine Zappone might be a good person for the job”.

He added that he would like to speak on Zappone’s “good name” even though the “process wasn’t correct” in regards to her proposed appointment to the UN Special Envoy Role.

Leo Varadkar said that he has “full confidence” in the Minister.

“I know nobody more committed to public service than he is,” he said.

He added that both he and Coveney “made mistakes” and “acknowledged and apologised” for them.

Varadkar said that Sinn Féin is seeking “to hound an innocent man out of office for cheap publicity and public gain” and without “balance” everything “would be a scandal”.

Multiple members of the Dáil chamber began to mutter obscenities such as “bullshit” during Varadkar’s statement leading the Tánaiste to pause before concluding: “I do not make these points to understate the fact that mistakes were made or avoid accountability for them.

Coveney said during the debate that he “should have and could have” dealt with the issue much better, adding that he was “too defensive” in interviews.

He added that the proposed appointment of Zappone “was a genuine effort to add to the credibility of Ireland in regards to human rights.

“My decision – and it was my decision, to ask Katherine Zappone – was in no way corrupt or dishonest.”

Mary LouMcDonald interjected to say that the Minister has a “hard neck”, to which he replied: “You’re a hypocrite.”

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