There was a motion of confidence in Simon Coveney, who arranged the appointment, and the government successfully stood by their Minister.
However the debate once again illustrates how low the bar is in Irish politics, it proves that just about anything goes in the land of shinnanigans, where even the most talented and astute politicians do favours for their friends.
What's most troubling is the amount of people in government who believe this behaviour is excusable, justifying their position by balancing an act of corruption with a history of good merit.
The outcome is that there is no right and wrong in politics, instead good deeds and apologies allow politicians to craft strong PR profiles whilst looking after their friends.
A summary of the motion of Confidence in Simon Coveney:
Micheal Martin – Taoiseach (FF)
A motion seeking the removal of a member of Government is a serious matter. Since the foundation of the State, Dáil Éireann has held that these motions are the most serious that can be tabled. They are supposed to mark an important statement on fundamental policy failures or a serious legal issue. The sad reality is that the issue of confidence in the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence before the House this evening has nothing to do with any of this. It has nothing to do with seeking to protect the State or assert the rule of law.
The creation of this role and the attempt to appoint an individual to it was handled carelessly and badly. As the House will be aware, the Minister has apologised to me, his ministerial colleagues, the Oireachtas and the public on a number of occasions for his handling of the matter. He has accepted that I should have been informed of the proposal in good time and that the procedures followed were unacceptable. Procedures that were not properly followed were strengthened and where they were missing have been introduced.
There is important work to do in the Department of Foreign Affairs and the errors that were made have been addressed.
There has been full transparency, and every reasonable question has been responded to. Procedures have been tightened to ensure that this will not happen again. The Minister has apologised and I have accepted his apology.
Eamon Ryan (GP – Minister for the Environment)
The public service job is to pull up Ministers and say, "Hold on a second here. We have to follow right and due process." As I can see, however, from listening to the Oireachtas committee hearings and elsewhere, the Departments had a similar view to the Minister's in this case; that is, that Ms Zappone would be a good person for this role
Mary Lou McDonald (SF Leader)
The Minister sought to make up a job for a friend and former colleague and, when caught red-handed, he went about covering his tracks. He destroyed records he was obliged to keep under law and twice fed a cock-and-bull story to a committee of the Oireachtas. This is by any standard an abuse of office.
The deluded response from the Taoiseach as Leader of the Government this evening is proof positive that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have held power for far too long. The cronyism they now so loudly defend is precisely the brand of culture that has squandered the hopes of generations.
Matt Carty (SF)
A former Minister wanted a job that would get her access within the UN and her Fine Gael friends bent over backwards to make it happen. The Minister made up a job that was not necessary and he expected Irish taxpayers to pay for it. He allowed Katherine Zappone to draft her own job description, deleted information he was legally obliged to protect and wasted his Department's resources and staff time to justify all those actions retrospectively. He brought the appointment to Cabinet without first informing his coalition partners, but they signed off, probably in the knowledge that at some point in the future they would want to do a favour for one of their friends because that is how Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil do business.
Appointments to public bodies, right up to the Supreme Court, are decided not by what you know but who you know. Public finances are spent and policy decisions are made on the basis not of what is in the best interests of workers and families but of who has access and who is on the inside track.
Brendan Howlin (Labour)
Katherine Zappone, actively sought a role after leaving office, initially with USAID by seeking an introduction to Samantha Power, and contacted her former Government colleagues to that end. Subsequently, she sought a role with the United Nations as an Irish special envoy. The text messages of 26 February from Ms Zappone to the Minister, Deputy Coveney, in response to his phone call to her was a checklist of her qualifications for the job. Her text message of 4 March was a clear appreciation of being offered the role and sought the specifics of her appointment duration. There is simply no other way of reading those text messages. The Minister denies he made the job offer in late February and does not see Ms Zappone's communications as lobbying, and therein lies the difficulty. He cannot accept that in response to a request from a former ministerial colleague, he created a new position without reference to his partners in government and offered it to her.
Leo Varadkar (FG)
Simon is someone with a deep commitment to human rights and he has put that commitment at the centre of our foreign policy, whether it is in the Middle East, Afghanistan or in the Mediterranean during the refugee crisis.
We made mistakes when it came to the proposed appointment of former Minister Katherine Zappone as special envoy, and he and I have acknowledged and apologised for our mistakes in that regard.
Heather Humphreys (FG)
As someone who comes from just outside Clones, a few miles from the Border, I know the genuine fear that existed in communities at the prospect of a hard border returning to this island. There was one person more than anybody who fought on Ireland's behalf to ensure that did not happen. That was Simon Coveney
John Brady (SF)
He has used his position as a senior Minister, alongside his party colleagues, the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, and the Tánaiste, Deputy Varadkar, to make up and offer a job to a former colleague on the mooch for a cushy number that would provide access to the corridors of power within the UN.
Gary Gannon (SD)
The Minister, Deputy Coveney, has had multiple occasions on which to set the record straight on the botched appointment of Katherine Zappone. Each time his explanation has stretched the truth to the point of annihilating it.
The Minister, Deputy Coveney, has asked us to believe that not only did Dr. Zappone misapprehend the job offer that had been made on 4 March, but she also misconstrued a start date. Dr. Zappone's text message to the Minister, Deputy Coveney, is clear: "You had mentioned June as a start date." The Minister, Deputy Coveney, has told us that this explicit statement from Dr. Zappone is a misunderstanding and her earlier exuberance about the "incredible opportunity" she had been offered was pre-emptive.
Every person involved in this saga understands that power and access to it are their own form of currency. Tonight, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Green Party Members want us to believe that a highly connected person who was found to be contacting and influencing senior Ministers and diplomatic staff in the awarding of a prestigious job does not amount to lobbying. Beyond that, the Tánaiste tried to diminish the story in early August by saying that a salary of €15,000 was not significant. Tonight, the Taoiseach described the role as being part time.
Neale Richmond (FG)
I have been fortunate over the past four years to work extremely closely with the Minister as this State faced one of the gravest challenges of a generation, the threat of Brexit, the threat of a return of a hard border and the devastation of so many vital industries. Throughout that period, the Minister, Deputy Coveney, stood up, stood particularly tall and defended the interests of Ireland and its people North and South.
Richard Bruton (FG)
Simon made a mistake, for which he has been fully accountable. His integrity is absolutely beyond question.
Katherine Zappone is not a crony when it comes to defending LGBT rights and history will show that.
Josepha Madigan (FG)
The Minister, Deputy Coveney, has represented this country with distinction on the international stage. He has stood firm in the interests of everyone on this island, North and South.
Paul Murphy (PBP/Solidarity)
It is quite striking that amid all the praise of the Minister, Deputy Coveney, as a great statesman and everything else, there has been an absence of a repetition by the Government of the detailed narrative that he put forward to cover up clear cronyism. I think that is because to simply lay out fact after supposed fact would reveal how ridiculous this is.
He claimed that no job was offered until July, despite a text message from Katherine Zappone stating, "Thank you so, so much for offering me this incredible opportunity." That was before the job specification was even written and she obviously had a hand in writing that later. The Minister then claimed that he deleted the message about this because his phone was running out of space. I think the Minister has an iPhone, if not a high-end Android. They can contain approximately 350 million messages. I am sure he is a popular man and receives many text messages but that was incredible.
It is clearly a breach of the Freedom of Information Act to delete text messages between a Minister and the Tánaiste relating to the appointment of someone to a Government position. Why does any of this matter? This cronyism, which is being covered up, is not an accident or a bug. It is a feature of how capitalism, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael operate.
Mairead Farrell (SF)
The events of today have been dictated by Zapponegate, another occasion when public standards and ethics were thrown into the bin
I am no legal expert, but section 52 of the Freedom of Information Act is written with the kind of admirable clarity that does not require a legal background to understand. It states that "a person ... without lawful excuse and with intention to deceive destroys or materially alters a record shall be guilty of an offence and be liable on summary conviction to a class B fine".
Paschal Donohoe (FG)
There are 145 reasons that charge does not stand up tonight, which are the 145 appointments made by the Government with the assistance of the semi-State body, the Public Appointments Service, that advises the Government on appointments that are made to leading positions in semi-State bodies.
We have acknowledged what went wrong in that process, as he has. As other Deputies have said, when the long hours needed to be put in to defend our country on Brexit and to put together the proposition that led to the backstop, when a political crisis - how we could respond to Brexit - emerged, nobody did more and nobody worked harder with more integrity, patriotism and competence than Simon Coveney. If you are going to make the charge about a single point, and I hope all who are making this charge have records of perfection, unblemished records they can stand over, let us look at the man, his track record and his character.
Barry Cowen (FF)
The envoy appointment fiasco represented a failure of leadership and collective responsibility at the heart of the coalition. What has made the whole business such a sorry tale is that there was absolutely no public appetite, no demand, for any such envoy to be appointed. It was easy then for the public to conclude or to perceive that this was a set of insiders looking after one of their own.
My membership of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party and my commitment to modernise its aims and goals from within are an example that will not be compromised or undermined by the obvious yet understandable political gamesmanship we see here this evening from Sinn Féin.
Cathal Crowe (FF)
We have full confidence in him. It is the process that got us to this point, which has us very annoyed. We have confidence in him. It is the process that has been wrong.
Pearse Doherty (SF)
Let us call a spade a spade. The Minister, Deputy Coveney, has been caught red-handed offering a salaried job, paid by the taxpayer, to a friend. He has been caught using the time and resources of his Department to reverse-engineer that role. He has been caught covering his tracks and destroying records and communications pertaining to official Government business, thereby making a mockery out of the freedom of information legislation. He has been caught misleading the committee to which he is answerable and then concocting a story that stretched all credulity, expecting the committee and the public to swallow it.
Cathal Berry (Ind)
The people I represent do not want a new defence Minister who would come in here with brand new bright ideas and kick the can down the road for another four or five years. They need action and they need it now because our armed forces are in crisis.
Michael Lowry (Ind)
The appointment of Katherine Zappone was mismanaged from the start. It has damaged the perception of Government competence and left the door open for legitimate criticism.
He has admitted that things could, and should, have been done differently. The Minister has apologised for his mistakes. His error of judgment in this instance is not in keeping with his long-standing political character. Deputy Coveney has been always cautious, careful and prudent in his actions and commentary on political issues. The Minister, Deputy Coveney, is known for his integrity and commitment, which has been flawless over the years.
Peadar Toibin (Aontu)
There was no public recruitment process and no advertisement. There was no transparency. It was not open to anybody else. There was no competition. There were no qualification criteria. There was no fairness whatsoever. This role was gifted to Katherine Zappone because she was a friend and because she had the mobile number of half a dozen Ministers. Cronyism is deeply corrosive in the running of a country. It creates a two-tier society and blocks the majority of citizens from applying for jobs at the upper reaches of our Government. An absence of competition also ensures that we will not have the best people for the jobs we need filled in this country. Freedom of information, FOI, legislation is in place simply to allow citizens and journalists to make government transparent. On this occasion, Government communications were deleted and FOI material was shredded.
Marian Harkin (Ind)
Many mistakes were made and they all arose from the premise that a former Minister could lobby the two most senior Fine Gael Ministers, the Tánaiste and an ambassador for a job that at that point in time did not formally exist. This, it seems, is how business was conducted in the allocation of similar, existing posts up to that point. It was not transparent or accountable.
The colour of the card for the Minister should be yellow, not red. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes.
Hildegarde Naughton (FG)
As colleagues have stated here this evening, the Minister, Deputy Coveney, is a politician of vast experience, ability and integrity. He has been deservedly praised for his careful handling of Brexit and his relationships with the EU and its institutions. He has helped to ensure that Ireland's interests and the protection of the Good Friday Agreement were at the heart of the Brexit negotiations.
Simon Coveney (FG)
I want to say to every one of my colleagues in this House but, in particular, to my partners in government, that I regret that this issue has distracted from the important work we have been trying to do and I regret the mistakes made by me in advance of the Cabinet decision and subsequently in terms of not clearing these issues up earlier. I have apologised to the Taoiseach and to my colleagues.
I have been in politics for 23 years and in government for more than a decade and every day has been a privilege. I have made mistakes on that journey but I have never had my integrity questioned in the way it has been in the past month, leading to this debate. Ironically, in recent years I have worked closely with many of those who have now chosen to table a motion of no confidence in me. I have worked with them on Brexit and the Northern Ireland protocol, preventing Border infrastructure re-emerging on this island, restoring the devolved institutions in the North, reconciliation and trying to find a way to deal with the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland and maintaining North-South co-operation through it all. All of those difficult achievements required trust. They required respect and an absence of cynical party politics to get important things done.
The Dáil divided: Tá, 92; Níl, 59; Staon, 0.