Simon Coveney is facing a grilling over the infamous champagne party in his department when he is called before the Oireachtas foriegn affairs committee.
The issue is back at the top of the political agenda this week after the Minister for Foreign Affairs revealed on Sunday night that an inquiry into the champagne lockdown party has been launched.
Members of the Oireachtas committee are meeting on Tuesday to decide whether to call Mr Coveney and other senior department officials before them to answer questions on the affair.
The Irish Mirror understands that this will be a foregone conclusion after talking to committee members last night.
There was widespread public anger when a picture showing a gang of officials in Mr Coveney’s department partying at the height of lockdown emerged.
The picture was taken in June 2020 in the aftermath of Ireland winning a UN Security Council seat.
A selfie which was shared on social media at the time – but was quickly taken down – shows up to 20 officials from the Department’s UN Security Council campaign team raising champagne glasses in the Department’s headquarters on St Stephen’s Green.
The gathering breached Covid rules at the time when people could only meet up to six others from outside their household both indoors and outdoors.
A source close to a member of staff who was in the photo told the Mirror a little more about the evening.
He said: “There were two bottles of champagne between 20 people.
“We had about half a glass each and went back to work.
“If that was a party it was the worst one I’ve ever been to.”
It is also understood that all of the people in the picture were contacted last week and warned that an investigation was going to be launched.
Foreign affairs committee member, Senator Gerard Craughwell, told the Irish Mirror that Mr Coveney and others in the photo should be hauled before a committee hearing.
He said: “Regarding the party at Foreign Affairs, I most certainly do wish to see the Minister at the committee to take questions on the event and the action he took after the event.
“In addition, I am wondering why this event is being treated differently than other breaches of COVID19 restrictions.
“Many members of the public have been before the courts facing fines, and at least one got jail.
“I have written to the Chairman seeking the appearance of ambassador (Niall, Secretary General at the time of the photo, which he took) Burgess at the committee.
“In addition I believe Ambassador (Brendan) Rogers and John Concannon (Director of Global Ireland) should also attend.”
Former Independent Alliance TD and government minister, Shane Ross, criticised the inquiry being carried out internally and questioned its independence because of this.
Mr Ross said: “Is government serious?
“It is asking the Secretary of Dept of Foreign Affairs to carry out inquiry into behaviour of Minister , last Sec Gen and top civil servants in his OWN department ?
Fianna Fáil TD, James Lawless, is also a member of the foreign affairs committee.
He was not as hard on Simon Coveney and the Department officials as Mr Craughwell.
He said it was “wrong, senseless and foolish” to hold the impromptu party, but he added that it was not comparable to Downing Street’s now infamous parties, saying: “I don’t think they should be hung, drawn and quartered over it.”
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