Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said he is ready to go to the Oireachtas Foreign Committee if asked to answer any questions about the champagne celebration his staff had on the day Ireland won the United Nations Security Council.
In an interview with RTÉ News at One, Coveney said he was in the Taoiseach department on June 17, 2020 when the celebrations took place in the foreign department.
“Unfortunately in my department there were twenty or more senior executives who participated in the successful project,” Coveney said.
“And after the vote, he celebrated in a way he should not have.
“I must say that they are all concerned about what happened. It should not happen, and the Department has apologized.”
Minister Coveney said he returned to his Department the same night, about 95 minutes after the vote, to complete his day’s work. He appealed to the UN General Assembly to thank the survivors for their work. He emphasized at the time that “people were at work.”
“When I arrived, there was no party going on. I stayed there for ten minutes because I had work to do.
“I went back to my office later because I had to call on the Norwegian foreign minister because they had also been appointed to the Security Council, and I had other discussions about trying to approve the Government program.”
Minister Coveney said he was informed by his party later that night that a photo had been posted on Twitter in connection with celebrations he did not realize had taken place.
He said his Secretary-General had agreed that the celebrations should not take place “and that there was a ‘temporary drop in our security’ and I think what he said.”
Mr Coveney said he did not launch an investigation into the incident because there was “admission of guilt” and there was no repetition of “dropping guards.”
He added that people like him and his department should “lead by example” in relation to Covid and emphasized that it was something that participants were embarrassed and ashamed of.
“It happened. It hasn’t happened since then. And I think from then on the lesson was learned.”
He challenged the idea that there is one law of the Department of Foreign Affairs and another law.
Minister Coveney added that he was pleased to hear any questions from the public as well as to its secretary general.
“I will (I go ahead with the Oireachtas Committee). I will always go before the Oireactas Committee if they want to ask me anything.”
In the meantime, a question has been raised with Minister Coveney regarding the ongoing investigation in Tánaiste over the failure of the GP agreement.
He was asked if Varadkar could become Taoiseach by the end of this year if the investigation continues.
Minister Coveney said he hoped the investigation would be completed “long before Tánaiste became Taoiseach.”
“Soon the garda investigation is coming to an end. This is a matter for the guards and I don’t think I should be involved.”
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