Simon Coveney declines to answer further questions on Iveagh House champagne gathering

Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney avoided questions this evening on the Iveagh House champagne party affair as he returned from London.

r Coveney – whose department apologized for the breach – was asked why he had taken no disciplinary action against staff who violated Covid lockdown rules, one of whom has since been appointed ambassador.

“I made detailed statements on this on Wednesday, and really have nothing more to add,” Mr Coveney said as he arrived at King’s Inns for the launch of a book on the negotiations. of the treaty.

The event had been flagged as a ministerial public engagement earlier this week before Mr Coveney’s department said yesterday it had mistakenly appeared in its diary.

His officials in Dublin said he would not facilitate questions from the media yesterday and was in London after meeting with new UK Brexit Minister Liz Truss.

Mr Coveney’s communications advisor did not respond to contacts asking for confirmation of the minister’s engagement, for which he returned yesterday afternoon.

The Minister was asked if he had avoided questions and whether, when he examined the team organizing the successful campaign to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council to thank them for their work, he saw evidence of glasses, bottles or a recent celebration.

“As I said, I made a detailed statement in writing on Wednesday and I have nothing more to add. I have said what I have to say on this, and I do not care. here.

When asked if he would appear before the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee to answer questions about a Covid rally for the second time in six months, Mr Coveney said: ‘I have nothing more to add. Thank you. “

Mr Coveney released his statement after the Taoiseach criticized the rally on Wednesday after a selfie photo emerged showing staff standing close to each other and raising champagne flutes to celebrate the siege victory – which intervened weeks before Katherine Zappone called a rally at the Merrion Hotel.

Mr Coveney chaired an attempt to appoint her Irish special envoy to the United Nations last year. Ms Zappone – whose appointment surprised the Cabinet Taoiseach – then withdrew from the process.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and his party leader Leo Varadkar then apologized to the Taoiseach for the surprise of the name brought.

It is not clear whether Mr Coveney apologized to the Taoiseach again for the champagne lockdown night in his department, which Mr Martin said this week was wrong and should not have happened.

But the Taoiseach also said the case went no further in terms of sanctions against the staff members involved.

In his statement this week, Mr Coveney said: “June 17, 2020 has been a working day for me. At no time during this day did I attend a champagne evening.

“I was in the government buildings for the UN Security Council vote. It was then that a photograph was taken at Iveagh House which showed DFA officials violating Covid guidelines.

“I had no prior knowledge of this impromptu meeting at the workplace. This shouldn’t have happened and the then Secretary General admitted the mistake 18 months ago.

“The ministry apologized again last week for the violation. After the vote that evening, I held meetings, calls and a press conference in government buildings before returning to work in my department.

“I spoke and thanked the staff involved in the UN campaign in the UN section of Iveagh House. I did not see the Covid breach in the previous photo and thanked our officials at their workplace on a working day for the work they had done on behalf of the state.

“After 10 minutes, I returned to my office at Iveagh House to prepare for a call with the Norwegian Foreign Minister and for ongoing briefings on the coalition government negotiations.”

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