Questions over Martin Fraser’s ambassadorial appointment raised in the Dáil todayPadraig Conlon 23 Jun 2022
Aontú Leader Peadar Tóibín says that questions he asked in written format, or from the floor of the Dáil today, of the Minister for Foreign Affairs remain unanswered in relation to the appointment of Martin Fraser as Irish Ambassador to Britain.
“Martin Fraser, the former Secretary General in the Department of the Taoiseach was the most senior civil servant in the country,” Deputy Tóibín said.
“He has, over his tenure, been embroiled in a number of controversies not least the failed secondment of CMO Tony Holohan to Trinity College.
“He was also the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach when Leo Varadkar leaked the confidential document negotiated with the Irish Medical Organisation to a friend who was also the president of a rival GP group.
“The Gardaí have sent Leo Varadkar’s case to the DPP and there there may be a criminal trial.
“Martin Fraser was both the Secretary to the Government as well as Secretary General within the Taoiseach’s Department when this alleged crime took place and as such may be required to be a witness”.
Deputy Tóibín also questioned whether Mr Fraser is qualified for his new diplomatic role, has he sat diplomatic exams or does he have speak another European language other than English or Irish which is usual in the diplomatic corps.
“Martin Fraser has been appointed as Ambassador to Britain and is due to start at the end of August,” he said.
“If he is in that role during a trial, he cannot be subpoenaed to give evidence into the court case as it is outside the jurisdiction.
“Furthermore, it would be a significant scandal if a diplomat of that level was sought to give evidence while in that role. It’s not clear if the Attorney General was consulted in regards his appointment.
“We in Aontú submitted a large number of questions to the Minister for Foreign Affairs as to the appointment process undertaken by the Cabinet to appoint Fraser.
“These were not answered.
“I questioned the Minister from the floor of the Dáil today he still did not answer the questions.
“This case has many echoes of the Katherine Zappone affair and would urge the Government be open and transparent from the start.
“Martin Fraser’s appointment was approved in the same cabinet meeting that Katherine Zappone’s controversial envoy appointment was agreed and it seems without following the protocol set out in the Cabinet Procedures Handbook.
“The cabinet should have been notified of both those appointments by Friday 23rd 12pm.
“It was Martin Fraser’s responsibility to notify them, but it appears the cabinet and the Taoiseach found out about both appointments on the morning of the meeting, in order to push these appointments through without due process”.
“Through Parliamentary Questions we asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs was the position publicly advertised, how many people applied for the role, how many were considered or interviewed for the position, the dates upon which these interviews took place, and whether or not the government read a CV from Mr Fraser prior to his appointment”.
“We asked did Martin Fraser have a diplomatic background, has he sat diplomatic exams, does he have a European language other than English or Irish as is usual in the diplomatic corps”.
“None of these questions were answered by the government.
“I am deeply concerned that like the Katherine Zappone appointment, Ministers were not fully informed in advance of the appointment. Was the process fair and open?
“And what effect will the appointment have on achieving justice if there is criminal trial into the actions of the Tánaiste.
“It’s time that Government Ministers came clean and honestly indicate were they informed of the Fraser appointment before noon on the 23rd of July 2021”.