Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence, John Brady TD, has welcomed confirmation from the Chair of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence Charlie Flanagan that a request for Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney to appear before the committee to answer questions in relation to a lockdown celebration event will be considered when the Dáil returns later this month.
Teachta Brady said:
“Minister Coveney must give a full account of the events surrounding the lockdown celebration which has been revealed to have taken place at Iveagh House in June 2020.
“It is clear that he and his Department have learnt nothing from the scandal around the appointment of Katherine Zappone to a UN envoy position last year. Instead of being upfront with the truth, information is being drip fed. It isn’t good enough. There cannot be one rule for ordinary members of the public and another for people in political circles.
“The public deserve to have a full account of what happened.
“The events which took place in Iveagh House during a lockdown in June 2020 have been allowed to become a distraction at a time when the country is struggling to deal with the Omicron variant surge. Minister Coveney needs to end this distraction by being upfront about what happened.
“I believe that it is important that Minister Coveney appears before the Committee at the earliest opportunity to provide an adequate explanation, and to answer questions as to the events of the day in question, and the extent of his knowledge and participation.
“We all need to be focussed on dealing with very serious challenges presented by the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, and the impact that this is having on our society at this time. Government messaging in relation to Covid is confusing enough at the moment, without senior members of government causing distractions.
“Following Charlie Flanagan’s confirmation that the request by members will be considered at the next meeting of the Committee, Minister Coveney should make a statement at the earliest opportunity indicating his willingness to attend.”