C: Dept of Children via Flickr under licence CC 2.0 Generic. Cropped https://bit.ly/3nyM6FM

Katherine Zappone’s easy connections have served her well for a long time

It would appear that the current revelations regarding Fine Gael ministers and the ill-fated attempt to appoint Katharine Zappone as Special Envoy to the United Nations may have  persuaded others to follow Gript in looking more closely at why those in high places are so keen to please the former Minister to the extent of creating a post for her.

Zappone’s lobbying of the government, or rather of several Ministers, as well as  Irish officials in the United States prove not only that she was intent on getting the job, but was confident in her status as an insider.

To date, most of the media have been reluctant to shine a light on Zappone herself as she epitomises the liberal ideology that dominates all the Leinster House parties, with the singular exception of Aontú, with regards to abortion and other social issues. This will surely alter when the commission meets again at 10am this morning.

The latest releases of texts between Zappone and Foreign Affairs minister Simon Coveney reveal that she had not only corresponded with him on the position months before being officially ratified by the Cabinet, but four months before Coveney claimed to have decided to nominate her on July 22, as he stated on the record to the Committee last week.

It is also apparent, again as we previously stated, that the position was to be solely concentrated on LGBT+ issues. The later decision on April 19 to change the title of the office to Special Envoy on Free Expression and Opinion might be regarded as no more than a camouflage, if one was of cynical bent.

Zappone’s connections to the liberal elite have paid her huge dividends. The educational project, The Shanty, now more commonly known as An Cosán, which she was co-founder of in 1986 has grown to be a major player within the NGO sector.

While centred in a working-class area of Tallaght, its liberal educational programme has encompassed and perhaps even served as a model for the sort of extra educational dimensions being incorporated into public schools. This has evolved into the current drive to involve school children in the acceptance of dubious aspects of transgender ideology without any parental consultation.

Zappone was appointed to the Seanad in 2011 by then Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the recommendation of Labour leader Eamonn Gilmore, and despite scraping a seat in the 2016 general election for the first time, was immediately made Minister for Children. She lost her seat in 2020 when her vote collapsed to an even more derisory 5.5%, possibly one of the worst electoral performances of any serving minister in the history of the state.

Despite the lack of continued affirmation from the electorate, Zappone and An Cosán have greatly prospered over the past decade. In 2020, An Cosán – whose CEO Heidi Foster Breslin is another non-Irish NGO heavy hitter, a member of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission appointed by President Michael D. Higgins – received almost €2,800,000 in state funding. It is also a favourite of woke corporations who contributed a large proportion of the €665,160 An Cosán received from non-governmental sources in 2017.

Prior to that, An Cosán received more than €1 million from Atlantic Philanthropies, the fund established by US billionaire Chuck Feeney which drove so much of social change in Ireland. Zappone, who is described on her website as “one of the most prominent social change engineers of modern Ireland”, received a whopping €50,000 from Fenney’s fund to write a book about social change in the country. Easy picking for those with connections.

In regard to the current controversy, it has already been revealed that the seed for the idea of a Special Envoy for LGBT+ affairs was apparently planted by the Biden administrations appointment of such a position. Which is hardly surprising given that Zappone is a “lifelong member” of the American Democratic Party.


Which begs the question surely: Is it normal for sovereign democratic governments to appoint members of foreign political parties as ministers and special envoys?

It is among lots of questions that beg to be answered. Some of the answers might not at all be to the liking of those parties represented on the Committee sitting today.


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