TD Marc MacSharry has resigned from the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party and will vote no confidence in Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney this evening.
The Irish Examiner reports that Mr MacSharry will be voting with Sinn Féin in the no-confidence motion, after Taoiseach Micheál Martin said Fianna Fáil TDs would be expected to back Mr Coveney.
In his letter of resignation to the party leader, Mr MacSharry said voting intentions had been “dictated” by Government without debate and input from Fianna Fáil parliamentary party members.
“I was elected to serve a democratic republic, not one which applies different rules and sanctions depending on the identity or the position of people involved,” Mr MacSharry said.
He cited a series of controversies, including leaks from Cabinet meetings, Merriongate and the ongoing saga around Katherine Zappone.
Mr MacSharry said he had been left with “no option but to resign the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party whip effective immediately and will be voting no confidence in Minister Simon Coveney.”
The Sligo-Leitrim TD, the son of former Fianna Fáil minister Ray MacSharry, has been a long-time critic of Mr Martin’s leadership of the party.
Mr MacSharry said he would continue to represent his constituents in Sligo, Leitrim, Donegal and North Roscommon and “work to the very best of my ability in line with my Fianna Fáil traditions, its constitution, and values from which the current leadership regime have unilaterally chosen to completely depart.”
Mr Coveney faces a motion of no confidence in the Dáil over his involvement in the appointment of Ms Zappone as a special envoy to the United Nations.
Sinn Féin is expected to table the motion on the Dáil’s first day back after its summer recess.
Mr Coveney has said he is “embarrassed” by the crisis surrounding Ms Zappone’s appointment, admitting it has not been his “finest month in politics”.
The Minister said he regrets not being more transparent when the appointment first emerged publicly at the end of July, with the long-running saga now dragging on for almost eight weeks.
In documents released by the Department for Foreign Affairs earlier this month, it was revealed that Ms Zappone thanked Mr Coveney for the “incredible opportunity” to work as a special envoy in a text sent more than four months before the Taoiseach was made aware of the proposal.
However, Mr Coveney has said that Ms Zappone was not offered a job back in early March, and added that he “should have been clearer with her on that”.
On Wednesday in the Dáil, the Taoiseach backed Mr Coveney, saying he was “acting in good faith” when he deleted text message conversations he had with the Tánaiste and former government minister Ms Zappone from his phone.