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Donohoe defends appointment of Zappone as UN special envoy for freedom of expression

Zappone will be assisting Minister Simon Coveney with United Nations business.

FORMER MINISTER FOR Children Katherine Zappone is to be appointed UN special envoy on freedom of opinion and expression. 

Cabinet approved the role this afternoon.

Defending the appointment, which was not publicly advertised, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said Zappone will be doing work on behalf of the Irish government for a two-year period.

Zappone will be paid a salary at the same level of “middle management” in the Department of Foreign Affairs, but Donohoe did not state the figure.

It is understood Zappone is set to earn €13,000-€15,000 before tax, as the salary is on a pro rata basis.

No additional money will be provided to the department for the new role, which the minister said would come from the existing Department of Foreign Affairs budget.

The department said the appointment will provide “enhanced capacity for engagement on Irish human rights priorities”. 

The finance minister defended the fact that role was not publicly advertised, stating that it is “appropriate” that some roles be appointed by government. He said Zappone has a long career in defending human rights.

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Donohoe told reporters today that Zappone is “eminently qualified to do the work”, adding that she has a strong record in public life here in Ireland 

She has “devoted” her life to such causes, and has a”deep understanding” of the Irish government’s position on such matters, added Donohoe, who said she will do a “good job” in making those views clear in the US and the UN.

Zappone was previously appointed the government’s special envoy for Ireland’s candidature for election to the UN Security Council, a seat which Ireland now holds.

Before becoming a senator and TD, Zappone held the position as Commissioner for the Irish Human Rights Commission and Equality Commission.

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