“Here We Are Again”

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From top: Denis O’Brien, Actavo, David McCourt, Minister for Communications Denis Naughten and Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy

Yesterday.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil if he was satisfied with the bidding process for the contract for the National Broadband Plan.

There is only one bidder up for the contract – a consortium which includes Denis O’Brien-owned Actavo, formerly known as Siteserv.

The consortium is led by a private investment firm called Granahan McCourt.

This morning, Peter O’Dwyer, in The Times Ireland edition, reported that David McCourt, of Granahan McCourt, met with the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten in New York last July.

Mr O’Dwyer reported that, during this meeting, Mr McCourt informed Mr Naughten that the British company SSE may withdraw from the consortium which it eventually did.

Mr O’Dwyer reported:

SSE pulled out of the consortium at the end of July in what was regarded as a significant setback for the state-backed scheme, which aims to provide high-speed broadband to 543,000 rural homes and businesses.

Mr Naughten told the Oireachtas communications committee yesterday: “Mr McCourt made the point at that discussion that there may be a request put into the Department [of Communications] for an evaluation in relation to a change to the consortium, but that’s not a matter for me. I would have no direct input or role in relation to that and that was a matter for the procurement process.”

Timmy Dooley, Fianna Fáil communications spokesman, described the meeting as bizarre and questioned why the minister would meet a bidder if he had no role in the procurement process.

Naughten ‘must explain’ meeting with bidder (Peter O’Dwyer, Times Ireland edition)

Further to this…

This afternoon…

Ms Murphy released a statement in which she recalled the controversy over how Mr Naughten spoke with Heneghan PR official Eoghan Ó Neachtain, who was representing INM at the time, on either November 10 or 11, 2016, about the proposed takeover of  the Celtic Media Group by INM.

Ms Murphy, in her statement, said:

At the time of the revelations regarding the Minister’s inappropriate contact with representatives of INM, both the Minister and the Taoiseach were forced to concede that there had been a bad error of judgement from the Minister when he knowingly engaged with a party involved in a transaction directly under the remit of his department.

“Yet here we are again with the same Minister taking a private meeting with the head of a consortium containing some of the same personnel involved in the INM deal.

“The Minister acknowledges that details of the bid and the consortium were raised at the meeting therefore the question must be asked; is this yet another grave error of judgement from the same Minister?”

“Surely the Minister, and indeed the Taoiseach, must see the problem in the fact that yet again Minister Naughten potentially compromised a process under the remit of his Department and most certainly did not act in the manner in which he should have as the Minister in charge.

“Are we to once again accept the paltry explanation that the Minister was acting in a personal capacity rather than Ministerial?

“Either way, this meeting was wholly inappropriate and raises even more concerns regarding the tendering process for the National Broadband Plan – a process which already has some serious questions hanging over it.”

Previously: A ‘Robust’ Tendering Process

‘543,000 Families And Businesses Do Not Care What Name Is On The Side Of The Van’

“I Sincerely Regret Expressing My Opinion…I Said Nothing Wrong”

UPDATE:

Namawinelake tweetz:

“It gets sleazier. Comms minister Denis Naughten says he had “a number of meetings” with the person leading the bidding consortium which includes Denis O’Brien’s Sitserv. Unless that “number of meetings” is one, there’s more to come from this.”

Read yesterday’s debate at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications here

18 thoughts on ““Here We Are Again”

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      I wish she was Taoiseach and she’ll definitely get my first preference when she runs for President in 2032/39.

  1. giggidygoo

    That is interesting. One bidder already knows that SSE ‘may be withdrawing’. “Mr McCourt informed Mr Naughten that the British company SSE may withdraw from the consortium which it eventually did.”
    Do the names need to be swapped around in that statement?
    Naughten is the supposed ‘independent’ that shed crocodile tears over Roscommon hospital, left FG over it ((LOL) and ends up a minister in a FG government. Stink stink stink.
    Same as Ross. Once a blueshirt, always one.

  2. Mike

    O’Brien should be given the freedom of Ireland. He should also get first dibs on every government contract no matter how small. He and he alone will be the savior of our country

  3. scoooops

    have someone in your pocket – definition
    to have power over someone in a position of authority

  4. DataGlo

    First thing that occurred to me when I heard the news this morning. Knew DO’B would be in the middle of it. Sleaze balls.

    1. Ian-O

      I think cushy directorships are the order of the day these days. Same thing really, turn up to a few meetings, have some lovely prawn and pistacchio sandwiches and sign off on something or other and no need to fear any criminal investigation as its all legal.

      Watch what jobs certain ex ministers kids get, look what directorships some ex ministers themselves got.

      That’s the real story, brown envelopes are so last millennium!

  5. Vanessa Foran

    If anyone, Johnny?
    Can flesh out how an opposing consortium team were aware of activities within a competing team, it would be great, and much appreciated.

    Because that’s the ball game. Besides some other matters that I won’t mention. Yet.
    The moment David McCourt even mentioned the Tender, and commenced disclosing details about a Competing bid to the Minister, is exactly the moment the Minister should have blocked his ears and walked out.

    If it was me, I would have my department secretary issue a mother of jaysus letter to McCourt and Granahan McCourt.
    And a full disclosure to the other bidders on the shortlist.

    But that’s just me

    Thanks

      1. Vanessa Foran

        Thanks Johnny
        Maybe for the moment you could email either myself or JR directly first.

        Berkshires huh?

        1. Johnny

          It’s Fall Vanessa,The Berkshires are God’s country this time off year.Trees changing color,apple picking,hiking,leaves falling oh and lots and lots off pumpkins.Email haha I barely have cell phone service out here :)
          Back NY tomorrow afternoon will take a look at this.

        2. johnny

          The minister admitted to having numerous meetings also with the bro-Frank who’s know as McBankrupt,he had awfully delicious,sordid and extremely public divorce, very very messy.
          Theres loads dirt on Frank and the bro-have’nt really followed this so need bit time get up speed-oh Frank is detested in LA-grab the popcorn :)
          “With their divorce producing a slew of unsavory financial details”
          https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2011/08/mccourt-divorce-201108

  6. phil

    You might imagine in this new culture of whistleblowing that there might be one senior-ish public servant, close to retirement and with access to the big picture would, you know … would make a protected disclosure to the minister ….. oh sorry… forget it….

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