Former children's minister Katherine Zappone. Sam Boal/
rolling controversy

Katherine Zappone will be asked to appear before an Oireachtas Committee to answer questions

The Foreign Affairs Committee agreed to extend the request this morning.

THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS Committee is to ask former minister Katherine Zappone to appear before it to answer questions about the aborted effort by the government to appoint her to a UN role. 

The former children’s minister and independent TD was to be appointed to a new role as Ireland’s Special Envoy to the UN for freedom of opinion and expression.

Zappone withdrew from the selection after it emerged that the Taoiseach had not been made aware of the nomination before it was brought to Cabinet on 27 July. 

Zappone had also provoked controversy after she had organised an outdoor event at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin in early August that was attended by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar. 

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has apologised for the manner of the appointment process and himself spoke before the Foreign Affairs Committee after it came to light that he had deleted text messages relating to Zappone’s appointment, which ultimately did not go ahead.

Coveney is set to face a confidence motion in the Dáil later today about the controversy but at today’s meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee it was decided that an invitation be extended to Zappone to answer questions. 

A request to extend the invitation to the New York-based Zappone was made at a private meeting of the committee this morning but is believed to have been unopposed. 

The committee is also set to write to Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach Martin Fraser asking him to attend to answer questions about the timeline of the appointment process.

Committee member John Brady TD of Sinn Féin has said this afternoon that Zappone was “in a unique position to shed light on the controversy” and that she should accept the invitation.

“As a former member of government, and a former senior cabinet minister, Katherine Zappone has a responsibility to the state, to make herself available to answer important questions,” the Wicklow TD said.

“Katherine Zappone needs to give her account and clarify what she actually believes what was being offered by Simon Coveney, as the texts between both of them clearly indicate that the former minister believed that she was being offered a job.”

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