Taoiseach says he won't "be drawn into" Fine Gael vs Fianna Fáil row 11 months ago

Taoiseach says he won't "be drawn into" Fine Gael vs Fianna Fáil row

“The Tánaiste’s been very clear he didn’t know about [the role] until he got that text from Katherine Zappone."

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that he is "not going to be drawn into" a Fine Gael vs Fianna Fáil fight amid the Simon Coveney text message controversy.

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Speaking to Newstalk on Thursday he said that Leo Varadkar has been "very clear" that he didn't know about the Special Envoy role until "he got that text from Katherine Zappone."

“I keep focused on the big issues. These issues do bubble up… I just don’t allow them to distract me," he said.

The Taoiseach added that he is “not going to be drawn into” a Fine Gael vs Fianna Fáil row.

“I’m not going to be distracted - I’m not going to let Government be destabilised over a part-time envoy position.”

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Tánaiste Leo Varadkar issued an apology on Thursday morning after it was revealed that texts he released between him and former Minister Katherine Zappone were not disclosed when requested earlier by journalists under Freedom of Information (FOI) law.

Martin's comments come as Varadkar shared screenshots of messages between himself and Coveney and Zappone on Wednesday.

The messages shared with RTÉ’s Political Correspondent Paul Cunningham were from the week leading up to the Merrion Hotel event which hit headlines last month.

Within the communications, Varadkar contacted Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to ask about Zappone's role ahead of meeting with her that week, to which Coveney replied: "Yes I spoke to Katherine tonight.

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Coveney added: "She seems very happy about it. I plan to have it in a memo for Government next week."

During the exchange with Zappone, Varadkar also asked whether or not the event at the hotel terrace was "definitely legal", before adding that it was "probably okay."

Zappone replied that the Merrion confirmed it was compliant.

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.

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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.