TD uses Dáil privilege to accused Minister of 'leak'

Spokesperson for Simon Harris says allegation is “untrue”

Deputy Matt Carthy yesterday used Dáil privilege to accuse Minister Simon Harris of being behind leaking Katherine Zappone appointment from Cabinet.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Higher Education has insisted Deputy Carthy's allegation is “untrue” and hit back accusing the Sinn Féin politician of abuse of Dáil privilege.

Deputy Carthy's statement from the floor of the House, came as Sinn Féin tabled a motion of no confidence in Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney over his handling of the appointment of Ms Zappone as Special Envoy to the UN.

Ms Zappone served as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs from May 2016 to June 2020, after she was elected in the Dublin South-West constituency.

During his contribution on Wednesday, Deputy Carthy, his party's spokesperson on agriculture, lambasted how for weeks it seemed the government “couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about,” over the Ms Zappone appointment controversy.

“The Taoiseach will remember, on day one, he told us to move on.

“Minister Coveney went on radio and arrogantly told the media not to create new stories.

“Rather than dealing with the debacle, Fine Gael were running a sting operation to expose that Simon Harris had leaked the appointment from the Cabinet meeting.

“Because, that is how business is done,” said Deputy Carthy.

Through a spokesperson, Minister Harris has however denied the allegation of leaking information from cabinet, a potential criminal offence, and described Deputy Carthy's actions as a “clear misuse” of Dáil privilege, and his claim ultimately to be “untrue”.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Deputy Colm Brophy accused Sinn Féin of making claims without any proof.

"A deputy stands up under privilege in the Dáil, names somebody without any proof at all. He just throws out that name and then that keeps the thing going for another day for Sinn Féin,” he said on the radio show. “I think that is an appalling way to do business and an abuse of Dáil privilege.”