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Government appointments: the buck apparently stops somewhere else… July 29, 2021

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

There’s a lot to unpack in the appointment of former Minister Katherine Zappone as special envoy for freedom of expression. For example, there’s the problem with who knew what when. The Taoiseach wasn’t told by his Tánaiste or Minister for Foreign Affairs (both of whom had served with Zappone in government) about the appointment prior to it being brought to Cabinet. There’s the fact she herself according to RTÉ offered herself for the position. There’s the question as to what procedures were put in place in respect of the position and potential candidates.

The Tánaiste’s comments in the following do not inspire confidence on many different levels:

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Mr Varadkar said it is “nonsense” to suggest that her appointment amounted to “cronyism” and that it is “not a plum well-paid position”.

Whether a position is well-paid or not is not the issue – and nor does it have any bearing on whether such appointments are cronyism or not. Nor is the point whether an individual is well qualified or not for the position. The key point is that processes in any context such as these are open, transparent and that there is democratic oversight. 

Martin is, many would think, being far far too generous in the following with respect to those who oversaw the appointment:

Micheál Martin told reporters today: “In relation to the appointment of Katherine Zappone, Minister Coveney has accepted it was an oversight in terms of procedures, he brought the appointment to Cabinet.”

The Taoiseach added: “We move on now – it is an issue you have to keep in perspective.”

And as for the following being an example of responsibility taken – unfortunately not so much.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he or his advisors or Minister Coveney should have informed the Taoiseach ahead of her appointment being brought to Cabinet for approval yesterday.

He said: “The procedure would normally be that – at the advisors’ meeting – the names are flagged and in this case they were not.

“In terms of a belt-and-braces approach, the line minister or me as party leader would have flagged it to the other party leaders or to the Taoiseach and it didn’t happen and it should have happened and we accept responsibility.”

So what should have happened? Daniel McConnell in the Examiner notes:


what normally happens is that the names of those being proposed are shared at advisor level, and Mr Martin should have been informed of the proposed name by Mr Varadkar at their leaders’ meeting on Monday.

While the Cabinet memorandum did include mention of the position of special envoy on freedom of expression, what it did not include was Ms Zappone’s name.

According to McConnell some in FF aren’t well pleased with Martin’s response, particularly after the Woulfe debacle last year. The feeling is that he should either have owned it or pushed back hard against the appointment. But if FF isn’t exactly happy about this interestingly some in FG…

A succession of TDs, senators, and councillors have made it known as to their deep unhappiness at the appointment.

Many see Ms Zappone as playing a role in the demise of Enda Kenny, and to see her elevated to a paid position, on the appearance of simply asking for the role, is causing a considerable amount of angst internally.


The bottom line is that Fine Gael, for the second time, have rammed an appointment through in an unseemly fashion, and while they have rejected accusations of cronyism, it is hard to escape that conclusion.

What is striking is that this was happened at all. No-one in this can be entirely happy with the outcome. Everyone involved comes away looking less good. So where and for whom is there a win? Or is the assumption that like Woulfe, a year will pass and all will be forgotten and forgiven? 


1. irishelectionliterature - July 29, 2021

Their lack of political nous is astonishing…. At a time where certain sectors are bemoaning the PUP payment the Government creates a stick to beat themselves with.
FG folks must be pissed off. How many of them went looking for a role, anything and were turned down.
FF folks are pissed off and the anti Martin brigade even more so.
Was discussing this with someone yesterday who was saying to me that they may as well hand the next election to Sinn Féin such is their carry on. Yet at the same time they are all terrified of an election as they know, as it stands SF will clean up.
What is the role, is it needed, is it payback for something? Was it promised by someone. … anyhow pure political stupidity.

Liked by 3 people

WorldbyStorm - July 29, 2021

+1000. How did this happen? What sort of people are in government that this seemed like a good idea to anyone?

Your point about the next election really resonates. This sort of stuff and they might as well give up. And the timing is actually as bad as if it happened during a sitting week of the Oireachtas because there’s not a heap of political stories (political colour stories I should say) out there, are there? So it’s dynamite.

I have to ask, what way do you see this one playing out? Do you think the government has just decided to tough it out?

Liked by 1 person

irishelectionliterature - July 29, 2021

I think they will tough it out. Obviously they would be hoping that Katherine Zappone refuses the role. That won’t happen, the only thing going for them is that she will be away in New York.
I’d imagine that there will be plenty of FOI requests regarding her expenses….. I hope she won’t be flying first class to Dublin from New York

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - July 29, 2021

Well that made me laugh out loud re her flying first class. 🙂

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Quite some mess they find themselves in again. And I see that today’s commentary in the media is far from sympathetic.

Liked by 1 person

Wes Ferry - July 29, 2021

Smacks a little of Tory cronyism with admonitions to the public to have some ‘perspective’ and move on – basically, stop asking questions, suck it up.

Liked by 2 people

2. crocodileshoes - July 29, 2021

I’ve written to Mr Coveney and offered my services as envoy for bringing the America’s Cup to Cork. 15 grand, plenty of air travel, pensionable – it’s a sacrifice I’m prepared to make.

Liked by 2 people

sonofstan - July 29, 2021

I’d like to be peace envoy to W. Yorkshire. Happy to jobshare.

Liked by 3 people

banjoagbeanjoe - July 29, 2021

Yep. I could do every second weekend. Just need to check the PL fixture list to firm up my available dates.

Liked by 3 people

Fergal - July 30, 2021

Look Joe, Ms Zappone is an asset to her country…. that’s just feck-acting if you think you can go to Elland Rd and watch football

Liked by 1 person

Fergal - July 30, 2021

Ah here Son, could you not do East Yorkshire too?


sonofstan - July 30, 2021

Sticking to the ‘Golden Triangle’ as the Yorkshire Post likes to refer to Leeds/ Harrogate/ York.

Liked by 1 person

Colm B - July 30, 2021

I’d like to offer myself as peace envoy in the UK/Spain/EU dispute over Gibraltar. I am even willing to move to Marbella, just to be nearby in case of the need for emergency talks.

I have a good CV re border disputes having frequently traveled by both car and train from Dublin to Belfast (Peace Train anyone?), passed Gretna Green on numerous occasions and once made rude gestures at US troops in Panmunjom.
I also once stopped a drunken fight between two comrades in Club Ui Chadhain.
Beat that!

Liked by 2 people

3. Tomboktu - July 30, 2021

My betting is that being special envoy for Ireland wasn’t her ultimate goal. The appointment is for two years, and guess what vacancy arises in two years’ time:



Liked by 2 people

Miguel62 - August 2, 2021

Bingo!!! That’s Zappone’s target trajectory for sure.


4. banjoagbeanjoe - July 30, 2021

Just thinking. Is there something Zappone has on FG that makes them jump when she clicks her fingers? “Gimme the job or I’ll tell them about…..”

Liked by 1 person

Colm B - July 30, 2021

Didn’t she appear as a witness in the trial of Paul Murphy etc in the water charges protest case, to testify how traumatised Joan Burton was?
If ever there was the epitomy of liberal establishment, Zapone is it.


Fergal - July 30, 2021

But wasn’t Zappone the director(?) of an adult ed. centre for early school leavers and single mothers which was being visited by Bruton on that day?


Tomboktu - July 30, 2021

Yes, Zappone and her late spouse, set up An Cosan in west Tallaght. Burton was presenting diplomas or certificates to students that day.

Liked by 1 person

banjoagbeanjoe - July 30, 2021

So, in fairness, she’s not all bad. Genuinely.

Liked by 2 people

Tomboktu - July 30, 2021

Some in ‘leadership’ roles in the lgb community were annoyed when she and Anne-Louise took their legal case in 2004 to have their Canadian marriage recognised in Ireland. One of the criticisms, not made publicly but to a select few, was that they had done nothing for the community and now wanted to hog the attention.

(In reality, they were not prepared to wait while the ‘leaders’ squashed dissent from their strategy of changing one law at a time until civil partnership could be a small next step. Two years later, in 2006, the ICCL went out and asked the lgbt community around the country and their report showed support in the lgbt community for the ban on same-sex marriage to be lifted, as against GLEN’s work initially for piecemeal reform (with nothing for the children of same-sex couples) before catching up with the growing support for civil partnership after Norris and then Brendan Howlin brought in bills on that.

That doesn’t mean I agree with everything Zappone has done since.)

Liked by 1 person

5. NFB - July 30, 2021

Timmy Dooley calling for Zappone to step back from the appointment. There’s a rebellion in this somewhere. The government’s effort to frame this as something that they can just shout “We’re moving on” about just made it worse.

Liked by 1 person

Fergal - July 30, 2021

You’d wonder like Joe above what Zappone has on FG?
And what about the other indos who backed that government-Halligan, McGrath, Ross… any goodies for them too? Or only Zappone…. which brings us back to Joe’s point above…


Fergal - July 30, 2021

I once saw Coveney on a street across from me… any chance of a sinecure too?
I could be Colm B’s bagman in Marbella!


sonofstan - July 31, 2021

By the by do you know that the Irish Diplomatic Service now has a consulate in Manchester? If this was during in the Bertie era, there’d be something decidedly fishy about that. The current admin seem to be all GAA or Rugby though.

Liked by 2 people

Tomboktu - August 2, 2021

Timmy Dooley wants her to step back, eh? That’ll bring her to her senses in no time, so it will.


6. NFB - August 2, 2021

On foot of Sindo’s front page splash, any idea who the offending senior minister could be? Donahue, Harris?


WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2021

Heheheh…this could go on and on. Got to say there’s a sort of subtle contradiction in all this:

“It comes after text message evidence was taken to the Tánaiste by a junior minister who set up an extraordinary ruse to identify the source of recent breaches of Cabinet confidentiality, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

When presented with the junior minister’s evidence, the minister concerned is understood to have denied to the Fine Gael leader he was the source of the leak — which occurred during Cabinet last week — about the appointment of Katherine Zappone to the role of UN special envoy for freedom of expression.”

Freedom of expression. Hmmm.


7. Tomboktu - August 4, 2021

So Zappone has now declined the role as special envoy.

I suppose that means we will now get to see whether it was about a job, and they decided to give it to her, or if it was anout her, and they decided this would the job to give her.

Liked by 1 person

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