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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Alamy Stock Photo Minister Simon Coveney has previously said that he has no issue with appearing before a committee to answer questions on the matter.
# department officials
Coveney to be asked to appear before committee over department lockdown gathering
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has ordered an investigation into a gathering of his officials in June 2020.

THE OIREACHTAS FOREIGN Affairs committee has agreed to invite Minister Simon Coveney to appear before them in relation to the Iveagh House lockdown gathering.

The minister yesterday ordered an investigation into a gathering of his officials in June 2020.

Controversy has been growing over the gathering of Department of Foreign Affairs staff, held in the aftermath of Ireland winning a seat on the UN Security Council.

Simon Coveney has denied attending the bash at Iveagh House, which was held while strict lockdown measures were still in place.

Following today’s meeting, the committee is to write to the minister asking for the terms of reference, scope of the investigation and the timeframe for its completion.

The committee will also seek to express concerns in the letter about the investigation being headed up by the Secretary General of the department.

It was also agreed to ask the minister to appear before the committee once the report has been completed. It is understood the deadline for a response from the minister is Thursday.

Earlier this week, Coveney said he would be happy to answer questions on the matter at the Oireachtas committee on foreign affairs if requested.

Coveney has faced repeated questions about the controversy, which was ignited after his secretary general tweeted a photo of the event.

The photo showed around 20 officials at the department drinking Moet & Chandon champagne, not wearing masks or adhering to social distancing measures. 

He also admitted last week that he was made aware of the lockdown-breaking champagne party at his department on the night it happened.

The minister said he was made aware that his Secretary General had tweeted a photo of the event, but decided not to investigate.

“I was told by my team that there had been a photograph that was put up on Twitter by the Secretary General. That clearly was not a good idea, but it had happened,” he said.

“I was told, I think, later on that evening. To be honest with you, that wasn’t my focus that evening at all.

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