Lockdown party | 

Simon Coveney 'must address' anger over champagne party held in his department

'He needs to make a public statement on the matter and state if he attended the department after the picture was taken'
DFA Tweet

DFA Tweet

Philip Ryan

Simon Coveney is being called on to publicly address the 2020 champagne party held in his department and reveal whether he attended the controversial celebration.

It comes as anger grows within Fine Gael over the embattled Foreign Affairs Minister's failure to clarify whether he attend the lockdown party in his own department.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Committee chair Charlie Flanagan has confirmed a request to call Mr Coveney before a hearing will be considered when the Dáil returns later this month.

Sinn Féin foreign affairs spokesperson John Brady, who also sits on the Oireachtas committee, said it is "unacceptable" that Mr Coveney has not addressed the controversy a week after the photograph emerged of around 20 officials huddling together drinking Moët & Chandon champagne in June 2020 while there were strict government rules banning indoors gatherings while there were also limits on the numbers who could attend funerals.

Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)

Simon Coveney (Niall Carson/PA)

"He needs to make a public statement on the matter and state if he attended the department after the picture was taken and when he was made aware of the party," Mr Brady said.

"It's very obvious that no lessons have been learned from the minister's involvement and handling of the Katherine Zappone scandal and the drip-feeding of information and misinformation so the minister needs to immediately break his silence."

Mr Brady's comments come after the minister's spokesperson confirmed Mr Coveney was in his department at "different points during the day" of the champagne party.

But the spokesperson did not respond to queries on whether the minister went to the department after a ­photograph of officials celebrating Ireland winning a seat on the UN Security Council was posted on Twitter.

"He has learned absolutely nothing from the mess he caused during the summer over the appointment of Zappone," one senior Fine Gael TD said.

Another long-serving deputy added: "It's madness. Simon doesn't seem to think he has to address questions from mere mortals such as journalists."

A third Fine Gael TD said: "It's bewildering that we are dealing with another DFA mess. He either attended the party or he didn't and he should just be transparent."

Another TD said: "Any leadership ambitions he may have are completely dead."

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