The selfie taken by Niall Burgess and posted online before being deleted

Senator's concern over Champagne party probe chief

Fianna Fáil's Diarmuid Wilson is a member of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee.

Local Fianna Fáil Senator Diarmuid Wilson is among a growing chorus expressing concern about the investigation into the Iveagh House champagne party being carried out by the current secretary general rather than from someone outside the department.

Sen Wilson is a member of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee, and he is among a number who have taken issue with secretary general Joe Hackett overseeing the inquiry.

The furore centres on a photograph posted online by Mr Hackett's predecessor Niall Burgess, which shows around 20 civil servants, unmasked and huddled, drinking champagne in celebration of Ireland winning a UN Security Council seat. The June 2020 office soiree was at a time when strict lockdown restrictions were still in place nationally.

Subsequently, Mr Burgess said he had bought and provided the champagne for officials.

Mr Burgess is now Ireland's Ambassador to France.

At a private meeting of the committee, members including Sen Wilson agreed to write to Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney to make their concerns known.

The committee also agreed to seek terms of reference for the investigation into the champagne party, which has been widely dubbed #Champagnegate on social media.

The committee members will further wait until the inquiry is over before calling Mr Coveney personally before a hearing.

Mr Coveney was previously scrutinised by the same committee over Katherine Zappone’s lockdown party for up to 50 people at the Merrion Hotel last summer.