Irish Minister Orders Investigation into Own Department’s Lockdown Breaking Drinks Party

DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 04: Irish Tanaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Simon Coveney holds a reception for Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge on March 4, 2020 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Phil Noble - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Phil Noble - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs has ordered an investigation into a lockdown breaking shindig that occurred in his government department in 2020.

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, has ordered a report into a champagne party that occurred in his own department in June of 2020.

Department officials have been accused of showing “utter contempt” for the Irish public after a picture emerged showing a number of senior figures drinking champagne together during one of Ireland’s periods of strict lockdown.

The image from the gathering — which took place after Ireland managed to obtain a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council — also appears to show at least a partial lack of mask-wearing and social distancing at the event.

According to a report by the Irish Independent, a spokesman said that the minister made the request for a report on January 13, instructing that it should be ready by the end of the month.

However, the Irish Deputy Prime Minister (Tánaiste), Leo Varadkar, has said that those in government are limited in terms of what can be done to punish the actions of civil servants.

“Politicians do not have the power or authority to discipline civil servants,” Varadkar said during an interview described by one fellow Fine Gael Party Member as a “car crash”.

“We have authority over our political staff. We don’t have authority over civil servants,” the Deputy PM continued. “We have no power to reprimand them or discipline them. We don’t, that’s just the way our system works.”

Varadkar also said that it would be up to the Irish police force, An Garda Síochána, to investigate whether the Department of Foreign Affairs gathering was illegal or not.

While the Tánaiste tried to downplay the incident, emphasising that it occurred “18 months ago at this stage”, the emergence of the picture was met with outrage amongst many in Irish politics.

“This shows the utter contempt official mandarins have for the Irish people,” said Irish Freedom Party President Herman Kelly regarding the issue.

“It’s a case of ‘rules for thee don’t apply to me’,” Kelly continued. “Lockdown rules were clearly for the little people, the serfs and workers, not applied to the bosses and rulers.”

The controversy mirrors events occurring across the Irish sea, with both the leaders of the UK’s Labour and Conservative party under fire for allegedly breaking the lockdown rules they voted into creation.

Boris Johnson — the head of the Conservatives and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom — has been forced to apologise to parliament over his attendance at a garden gathering in Downing Street during the height of lockdown of 2020.

Johnson’s apology came with a qualification however, with the PM saying that he was not aware that the event was not a work gathering, although many have heavily criticised this claim.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer has also been asked to explain himself after he was snapped drinking a beer in a constituency office in England with a number of fellow Labour Party members.

Starmer has denied all wrongdoing, instead accusing the Conservative Party of trying to drag down their opponents, saying that what he did was “a million miles away” from Johnson’s activities.

“We were working in the office and a takeaway turned up and we stopped and we ate it,” Starmer said. “There was no breach of the rules, no party, no comparison with the PM.”

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