Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has called on Minister Simon Coveney to immediately clarify the comments attributed to him at a Fine Gael Parliamentary meeting relating to his his Chief of Staff posing for a photo with the Russian Ambassador.
The Wicklow TD said:
“The recently appointed Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Lieutenant General Sean Clancy met with the Ambassador Filatov of Russia last week, which the Department of Defence have described as a routine courtesy call.
“Following the meeting Lieutenant General Clancy posed with the Ambassador for a photograph. Reports suggest that Minister Coveney described the photograph being taken as ‘ill-judged’.
“Minister Coveney may claim that this comment was made within the confines of a Fine Gael parliamentary group meeting; but he also must be very aware that such comments had no hope of remaining private for any length of time, as it is a matter of common knowledge that their parliamentary meetings leak like a sieve.
“I believe that the Minister was aware that his comments were politically loaded.
“In my view, the Minister has undermined his Chief of Staff at the very start of their tenure. If the Minister has a problem with the Chief of Staff’s actions, he should have addressed them directly to Lieutenant General Clancy in private.
“This is yet another distraction of the Ministers making and displays extremely bad judgement. The Minister should be focusing his energies on utilising our position on the UN Security Council for a de-escalation of the current situation in Ukraine.
“There is a crisis in the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Sean Clancy has been appointed to lead the Defence Forces out of this crisis. The Ministers ill-conceived comments serve to make the Chief of Staff’s job even more difficult, if that was possible.
“The Minister needs to immediately clarify his comments.”