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Champagne-gate Coveney 'refusing to come clean' on Champagne party, Peadar Tóibín tells Dáil

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín said Mr Coveney should be in the chamber answering questions on the affair

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Department staff at the party

Department staff at the party

Department staff at the party

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney is "refusing to come clean" on the Champagne party held in his department during the Covid-19 lockdown, it was alleged in the Dáil yesterday.

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín said Mr Coveney should be in the chamber answering questions on the affair.

He was supported by People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy, who said many people had been prosecuted under public order offences for drinking in the street and were still before the courts.

But instead of "a visit by the guards, the Champagne party in the Department of Foreign Affairs got a visit from the minister", Mr Murphy said.

Mr Coveney has said he dropped in to his department to congratulate the team involved in winning a security council seat for Ireland.

He has not said whether he saw any evidence of the earlier Champagne party to toast the achievement.

Mr Murphy said around 3,000 people had been fined for attending illegal lockdown parties, and 700 others penalised for organising them.

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Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney

Simon Coveney

 

Mr Tóibín told Taosieach Micheál Martin: "The regulations that your Government created have been enforced everywhere across the country, except it seems amongst the political class itself."

He added: "We have this really strange situation where we have Simon Coveney refusing to come clean with regards to what happened within his department.

"We have the whole of the Government looking at what's happening with Boris Johnson in England.

"And yet we haven't had the minister come before the Dáil here to answer questions," he said.

He demanded that Mr Coveney come before the Dáil to answer questions "with regards an event that broke regulations within that department".

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The Taoiseach responded: "Minister Coveney has already said he is prepared to go before the Oireachtas Committee of Foreign Affairs.

"Gardaí initiate their own investigations. Government certainly shouldn't be," he said.

Breach

Eighteen months on from that night, people were telling gardaí what to investigate and there were increasing "clarion calls" for people to be investigated, he said, in apparent reference to Senator Gerard Craughwell writing to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris about the matter.

The meeting was "clearly in breach of guidance", but the people involved had put their hands up and apologised, the Taoiseach said.

It was an impromptu celebration, he added, because Ireland had won a seat on the first count when it seemed extra work would have to be done to secure votes in the second round.

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