Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy, Minister for Communications Denis Naughten, and minutes of a meeting between Mr Naughten and David McCourt
Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy has called for time to be allocated in the Dáil this week to allow for the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten to make a statement and answer questions about the tendering process for the National Broadband Plan contract.
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.
Last week it emerged that David McCourt, of Granahan McCourt, met with the Mr Naughten in New York last July.
During this meeting, Mr McCourt informed Mr Naughten that the British company SSE may withdraw from the consortium which it eventually did.
Mr Naughten also told the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications last week that he had “a number of discussions with David McCourt about this project”.
In a statement this morning, Ms Murphy said:
“We know that the Minister met Mr McCourt in New York yet the version of events he gave during the Oireachtas Communications Committee hearing does not tally with the version detailed in the minutes of the meeting released by his Department late on Thursday evening last.
“Apart from that glaring variation of events, the Minister, in the committee testimony, refers to having met with Mr McCourt on the issue of the NBP on ‘a number of occasions’.
“I urgently want clarity on the nature of these discussions – particularly given the revelations of how other bidders feel they were treated during the process.”
“With the Budget consuming a lot of time and attention this week I feel it is hugely important that this vital issue is not allowed to fall of the political radar.
“We are dealing with one of the most important State contracts that will ever be awarded and any sniff of impropriety or bad governance must be met with significant urgency and robust questioning until we are satisfied the process to date has been as it should be.
“That is why I have formally requested that the Government Chief Whip provide time this week for the minister to address the Dáil and take questions – as he did last April when similar concerns were raised about his interaction with key stakeholders in a business decision his department had a role in.”
Previously: “Here We Are Again”