The Birthday Party [UPDATED]

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From top: Paul Murphy, Timmy Dooley and Denis Naughten; The McCourt family with tenor Ronan Tynan at a gala in New York.

7.01pm UPDATE:

Awkward.

6.10pm UPDATE:

Uh oh.

6pm Update:

A spokesperson for the the Minister for Communications has said Denis Naughten did pay for lunch for a businessman involved in the tender for the National Broadband Plan.

The lunch for David McCourt and his daughter cost €37 and it was deducted from Minister’s Naughten’s salary in July under the Oireachtas payments system, the spokesperson said.

Spokesperson says Minister did pay for McCourts’ lunch (RTÉ)

Earlier…

In the Dáil.

Following journalist Gavin Sheridan, of Right To Know, discovering, under the Freedom of Information Act, that, according to his diary, the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten was scheduled to meet with David McCourt for lunch in Leinster House on April 18, 2018.

April 18, 2018 was the same day Minister Naughten answered questions in the Dáil about Independent News and Media’s proposed takeover of Celtic Media.

Minister Naughten told the Dáil this morning he didn’t meet him for that lunch.

Instead, he said Mr McCourt was in Leinster House that day to celebrate a birthday – while he and his family were in Dublin.

Mr McCourt is founder and chairman of a private investment firm called Granahan McCourt – which is leading a consortium that is the only bidder for the National Broadband Plan contract.

The consortium includes Denis O’Brien-owned Actavo, formerly known as Siteserv.

Last week it emerged that David McCourt, of Granahan McCourt, met with the Mr Naughten in New York last July.

And yesterday it was shown that Mr Naughten, at this meeting, flouted his department’s own protocols regarding contacts between bidders and the state.

From the Dáil this morning:

Paul Murphy: “OK, minister, I’m going to go again on the first question and it’s the only question I’m going to ask so as to avoid any possibility of you answering another question. Were you due to meet with a Mr McCourt in Leinster House on the 18th of April or around the 18th of April?

Would there be a diary entry to that effect about a lunch or a meeting with Mr McCourt in Leinster House on the 18th of April or around the 18th of April?

And if that is the case, what was going to be the nature of the meeting? What was the meeting going to be about and who was going to attend? Was there going to be anyone from the department attending?”

Timmy Dooley: “Yeah, minister it’s really the same question. On the 18th of April, your diary shows an entry to have lunch with David McCourt in Leinster House. I can confirm to you that David McCourt did have lunch in Leinster House on that day.

Whether or not you joined him is a matter for you to clarify to this house. I want to know what the purpose of that meeting? Why you arranged the meeting? Was it your intention to have officials present? What was the expected outcome from Mr McCourt’s perspective?

And why in God’s name did you allow yourself to be embroiled, yet again, on the very day that you were explaining to this house why you had inappropriately involved yourself  in the Celtic Media controversy?”

Denis Naughten: “No, I did not attend the lunch, is the first thing. Second thing is that my understanding is that Mr McCourt and his family came in for lunch that day, to celebrate a birthday.

They had been in Dublin, that was the reason for that particular lunch. But I didn’t attend, I didn’t attend it. If Deputy Dooley says it’s in my diary, it’s in my diary, I don’t know.

Minister Naughten also told the Dáil:

“Yes, the booking [for the lunch in Leinster House] was made under my name. I didn’t speak with David McCourt either in person or on the phone or any other way that day or subsequent days in relation to that.

I facilitated the family coming in to Leinster House as many colleagues do here and I didn’t have any engagement whatsoever with David McCourt.”

On Monday, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy asked for time to be set aside in the Daáil to allow for Minister Naughten to answer questions about his contact with Mr McCourt and the tendering process for the National Broadband Plan contract.

All requests were declined.

Update:

Catherine Murphy said:

“It is interesting that the Minister, despite prolific spinning and semantics about his various dinner dates with David McCourt and family, has not defended his flagrant breach of his own Department’s protocols.

I believe he has not addressed this issue because there is no way for him to do so without acknowledging that he has, without question, broken the specific rules governing the tender process and has therefore fundamentally compromised not only the process but himself and his Ministerial office.

I have reiterated my request to the Business Committee that the Minister be brought before the Dáil tomorrow to make a statement and to take questions on the issue.”

Ms Murphy added:

“We know from a parliamentary reply to me that Minister Naughten briefed Taoiseach Leo Varadker in September 2018 and so I think it’s important that we hear if the Taoiseach was made aware at that stage of the Minister’s repeated breach of the protocols throughout the process.”

Hmm.

Previously:  ‘Any Sniff Of Impropriety Or Bad Governance Must Be Met With Robust Questioning’

Breaking His Own Rules

Denis Denis

“I Didn’t Wilfully Or Any Other Way Mislead The Dáil”

59 thoughts on “The Birthday Party [UPDATED]

  1. Worlds Biggest Ranter

    A “birthday party”

    Irish Politics. The gift that keeps on giving. And no we dont believe a word of this but like always the absurdity will be overlooked. Hilarious stuff. Man the whiff of bull**** on this one is overwhelming. Just as well we’re all eejits

  2. Ron

    In any other country there would be riots on the street outside Leinster House. But yet in Ireland, the electorate just ignores it and relects them – Its a depressing kip of a country. Hang your heads in shame anyone that supports these crooks. Filthy filthy filthy skoomy politicians

    1. A Person

      Really, that’s your reaction to this serious issue.? Are you Mr protest but do nothing to help solve things?

      1. qwerty123

        Ron believes rioting will solve everything. Like it did in Greece etc. oh wait… it didn’t. Another keyboard warrior moron. Get out and vote for a different party if you want change.

    1. Giggidygoo

      No shortage of good food there alright. Could they not have eaten in one of the food shelters, or get a take away from a food bank?

  3. Murtles

    Who brings a teen or preteen to Leinster House for their birthday lunch when in Dublin? What, is TGIF’s closed? No Nando’s or Eddie Rockets? And also what else does Naughten have in his daily diary that he doesn’t go to?

  4. The Bad Ambassador

    It’s all reminds me of Bertie and “I didn’t eat the dinner”

    Also, give the man a break – who among us doesn’t like to pop in to Leinster House to celebrate our birthday?

    1. Worlds Biggest Ranter

      Lets not forget that he also didnt have a bank account and that he was incredibly lucky at the race track. I mean if you can get away with that whooper then anything goes :-)

    2. realPolithicks

      I don’t live in Ireland anymore but a few years ago I was in Dublin and thought I might take a look at Leinster house out of curiosity. I spoke to one of the guards at the front gate who told me I would have to contact my TD to arrange a visit. So there’s never any popping into Leinster house apparently…unless you have the connections of course.

  5. millie st murderlark

    He’s such a silly-billy poo-pants.

    (Lads I’d appreciate it if you left this one as is, as a special favour to Minister Naughten)

      1. Andyourpointiswhatexactly?

        Silly-billy poo-pants is pretty much EXACTLY what my 3yo might say. Though she’d go for poopy pants as that’s how we roll.

  6. LeopoldGloom

    The whole tender process should be stopped, Naughton sacked, fined and investigated and a proper criminal investigation should ensue (not some stupid tribunal which only benefits the solicitors and barristers)

    1. Worlds Biggest Ranter

      Nooooooooooooooooo

      I’ll take the broadband first thanks :-) Fling him to the wolves after. Its irrelevant anyway. Everything is a nod and a wink here in some shape or form. This one has just become comically funny. No I say let it run. Just for poo & giggles

  7. Martco

    what a tosser..”bigshot” Naughten playing at being a bigshot

    he got caught but like it’s ok ‘cos FG and Brexit

    dirty dirty business being done like CJH pro’s

  8. Alan McGee

    Dad: “what do you want to do for your birthday poppet?”
    Poppet: “I’d like to have lunch in Dáil Éireann’ members restaurant dad”
    Dad: “Are you sure poppet? wouldn’t you prefer something more appropriate for a 9-11 year old girl”
    Poppet: “I SAID THE MEMBERS RESTAURANT IN DÁIL ÉIREANN DAD. DO IT OR I’LL POO MY PANTS”
    Dad reaches for phone: “Hello, is that the office of the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment?
    —pause—
    Office of the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment: “Yes it is”
    Dad: “can I make a booking for a childrens party on the 18th please?”
    —long pause—
    Office of the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment: “I have 1-2 o’clock or 2-3”
    Dad: “excellent we’ll take the 1-2 o’clock”
    Office of the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment: “great see you then”
    Dad: “is there chips and sausages on the menu? that’s poppets favourite!”
    Office of the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment: “yes there is dad, and jelly and balloons and unicorns and the big dog from Never Ending Story”.
    Dad: “see you then… oh, will the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment be there?”
    Office of the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment: “No, sure that would be mad.”

  9. b

    Assuming we’re all in agreement that getting this broadband project delivered is part of the Minister’s brief, is there any circumstances when he should be able to meet some of the key players that are able to do it?

    1. Ron

      Did you read all the information and back story to this or is this just yet again an example of the usual foot before mouth analysis that you regularly bore us with?

  10. Giggidygoo

    The telling phrase is the last line above ‘All requests were declined‘.
    Today, Emma brought a message to the Dail to tell them to do what they’re elected to do, and basically to start copping onto themselves.

  11. Blonto

    Jesus. Lowry’s apprentice is now becoming the master. What a neck.
    As for the birthday party ruse. Do you want to go to jump zone? The cinema? Build a bear? How about lunch in the dail cos that place is great for kids parties.
    Fupp off Naughton and Fine Gael and the whole lot of packet filling, misery making, self serving male appendages.

  12. andy

    Man organizes lunch in his work place for potential supplier.

    Stop the lights.

    It’s all a conspiracy.

    Morons

  13. Giggidygoo

    Let’s not lose sight of the real issue. ACTAVO and Denis O’Brien and the sly way that they have been introduced to this. That’s the underlying issue.

  14. Starina

    Can’t wait to see him ripped apart in the dáil tomorrow. I’m sure he’ll have spin but it’s amusing to think how miserable of an evening he’s having right now.

  15. Dhaughton99

    Before I hit Wikipedia, what was Naughten before he struck gold? Publican / Solicitor / Teacher

    1. Ron

      He never had a proper job. he ‘inherited’ his father’s seat at age 24 and has been riding the gravy train for the last 21 years. that’s a lot of gravy.

      1. millie st murderlark

        I do hope you’re joking.

        What did ya make of vegan week? I only caught the end of it this week. It coincides perfectly with bedtime for young murderlark.

        1. Vanessa off the Telly

          No not joking
          I think he went from de’ College into a Bi-Election for his Dad’s seat
          In true Fine Gael style I suppose

          Which explains his lack of cop on with Conflict of Interest exposure I suppose

          He definitely doesn’t demonstrate he has the natural ability to adjust his behaviour to manage these risks as they present

          Re: the other thing
          Like Bake Off themselves
          It’s had to move to a less main’sheet location
          Check that other twitter feed if you insist on knowing more

  16. gringo

    I hear that Redacted was seen rubbing his mitts together while cackling something about having found a new Lowry.

  17. phil

    This smells like bait, what else is going on that Im not aware of ?
    Maybe it is all about the project, There will be weeks of howling about this , justified Im sure, but I cant help wondering if our favourite business man will come out on top by ‘rescuing’ the contract somehow…

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