"A complete shambles": Mary Butler on the handling of Zappone appointment

Minister of State and Waterford TD Mary Butler has described as a "complete shambles" the handling of the appointment of Katherine Zappone to a special envoy role.

The "seasoned politicians" that are Tanaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister Simon Coveney "should have exercised better judgement",  Mary Butler said, adding the entire episode has undermined all the good work that is being done on a daily basis.

"I'm not questioning, for one moment, the bone fidas of Katherine Zappone, though she exercised good judgment by not accepting the position. But to be honest, it's very, very disappointing what has transpired in the past week," Mary Butler told Deise Today this morning (Thursday).

"It's a complete shambles, I'm not going to try and pretend it isn't. I can understand why people are so upset."


The Waterford Minister said Taoiseach Michael Martin had been completely "blindsided" by Katherine Zappone's appointment to the role - which she has now turned down - of Ireland's UN Special Envoy to Freedom of Opinion and Expression.

"The Taoiseach wasn't aware of this appointment before it came to cabinet," Mary Butler told Maria McCann.

That, to me, was disappointing."

"We are a collective government, three parties during our very best during the pandemic. I was disappointed. I would have expected more from Simon Coveney and the Tanaiste, two experienced politicians around a long time."


In her statement yesterday , Katherine Zappone said she was honoured to have been appointed but "it is clear that criticism of the appointment process has impacted the legitimacy of the role itself".

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said that he accepted "mistakes were made in how this appointment was brought to Government and lessons will be learnt from that".

Meanwhile, Fáilte Ireland is to meet with Government officials  later today to update the public health guidelines and provide clarity on the operation of outdoor events.

It comes after questions were raised when it emerged that Katherine Zappone, a former Minister for Children, had organised an outdoor gathering of 50 friends and former colleagues at a Dublin hotel, several days prior to her controversial appointment.

Speaking this morning on WLR, Mary Butler accepted that this gathering - which had Tanaiste Leo Varadkar amongst its attendees - had upset members of the public, many of whom had missed out on events like family members and friends' funerals and weddings in the past year.

Her office, she said, was constantly dealing with calls from people about such events.

She was now calling for clarity on exactly what was permitted, or not, in terms of numbers at certain events.