From top: Minister for Communications Denis Naughten; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
In the Dáil.
During Leaders’ Questions.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin again raised Minister for Communications Denis Naughten’s contact with lobbyist for Independent News and Media Eoghan O’Neachtain in November 2016, in relation to INM’s proposed takeover of the regional newspaper group Celtic Media.
At the time, the minister told Mr O’Neachtain that he planned to refer the proposed takeover to the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.
This discussion was then relayed to Denis O’Brien in the aforementioned email of November 12, 2016.
This was reportedly two months before the minister’s plans were made public.
In addition, on December 6, 2016, Minister Naughten told Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy he had not yet decided if he was going to refer the proposed takeover to the BAI.
Further to this.
Mr Martin claimed the Dáil was mislead and said Minister Naughten should apologise to the Dáil, and correct the record of the House.
M Martin also added:
“His [Minister Naughten’s] officials in the department must have warned him in advance of this issue, given their experience in relation to the Moriarty Tribunal and the awarding of the State’s second mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone. We know that experience traumatised the officials considerably and obviously left a mark within the department.”
In his response, Mr Varadkar said:
“Minister Naughten didn’t do any favours for anyone. He didn’t do any favours for Independent News and Media. He didn’t do any favours for Denis O’Brien. In fact, his action was to delay the merger, delay the proposed merger between INM and Celtic Media by referring it to the Broadcasting Authority…”
Watch Dáil proceedings live here
Previously: Naughten To See Here