‘The Procurement Process Should Be Cancelled’ [Updated]


This afternoon.

Leaders’ Questions.

Minister for Communications Richard Bruton (above) defends overruling civil servants who warned against the National Broadband Plan to Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin (top) and others.

It follows the publication of documents this afternoon showing that the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure last month called for the procurement process to be cancelled.


Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe (left) and Robert Watt, Secretary General at the Department of Public Expenditure

Documents released this afternoon show that Robert Watt [Secretary General at the Department of Public Expenditure] went so far as to call for the [National Broadband Plan] procurement process to be cancelled.

On 1 April, Robert Watt wrote a note to Paschal Donohoe in advance of the minister’s meeting with the Taoiseach some days later.

He strongly recommended against the plan on grounds of affordability, risk and value for money.

Minister was warned that National Broadband Plan posed great financial risks (RTÉ)

Mr Watt wrote:

“In relation to value for money, we do not believe that the cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken.

“The justification for spending €3billion on broadband has not been presented and we believe this involves excessive costs and risks for the Irish taxpayer, with questionable benefits, incremental improvements in broadband based on National Development Plan investment are more affordable and sustainable from a risk perspective.

“This alternative course of action should be pursued and the procurement process cancelled.”

Claire Byrne on RTÉ’s News at One interviewed the minister and asked if he had “wrestled” with the decision to go ahead with the project.

Mr Donohoe paused for a number of seconds before answering.

“Deeply,” he said.

Listen back in full here

Note in full here

National Broadband Plan documents

Earlier: “Seán, You’re Sounding Like A Member Of Fine Gael’s Frontbench”

The Plan: Save Denis



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45 thoughts on “‘The Procurement Process Should Be Cancelled’ [Updated]

  1. Daisy Chainsaw

    Of COURSE it should be cancelled, but what Redacted wants from FG, Redacted gets.

    1. eoin

      Stop that cynicism Daisy, next thing you’ll be suggesting the FG minority government is 100% dependent on the support of Michael Lowry and that, contrary to his protestations, he is in fact getting something for that support.

    2. Truth in the News

      Hidden in a redacted paragraph are costings for Fiber, this is greatest proportion of
      capital cost, why is it blanked out, and getting back to the existing roll out by Eir with the
      largest no of premises passed and Siro with a lesser number what is the unit cost a meter
      of optical fiber cable….Eir are installing 28 Thousand Kilometers, whats the unit
      average cost per Mtr, has Eir or indeed Siro spent in excess of 10 Thousand Euro
      connecting up each premises, where in Eir’s case take up is under 20% at at the
      end of it all Rural Ireland are being used a vehicle to enrich and bale out one player
      who has got badly burned….an effective and high speed network can be installed at
      a fraction of the cost….however well concealed below the radar there is opposition
      to this in establishment circles even if at a fraction of the cost, there could be method
      in their madness in arriving at the grossly inflated figure….its interesting to note
      that no where is mentioned in any of the documents,did anyone ask are Eir
      spending in excess of 10k hookng up each premises and multiples of if that
      if uptake is less than 20%…..Rural Ireland are being conned by a crowd of clowns

        1. Liam Deliverance

          Fiber is also correct.
          If you resize the text box the formatting goes like that sometimes, I doubt it was intentional.

  2. eoin

    Hang on a second. Wasn’t Paschal to publish all the advices (plural, I know) which would show, how, on balance, he is supporting the proposal?

    We’ve seen the negative from the Dept of Public Expenditure. Where’s the positive, Paschal?

  3. Jonner

    An absolute farce.

    In other countries, some of those involved would be in jail already.

    Needs to be retendered at the very least, in an open, fair and transparent tender without interference from crooked ministers.

  4. Dr.Fart MD

    i reckon they just wanna get it done as soon as possible to get votes off country people who they’ve to date done nothing for. cost, risk etc. would come after securing swathes of rural votes.

    1. Termagant

      Country people pay taxes too
      If you see a country person (perish the thought) and they seem happy about the hideously expensive thing they’ll be getting at some stage in the next 7 years you should beat them about their head and shoulders with a willow switch

      1. Owen C

        What is the government political strategy here? By publishing this, as well as giving a gross cost figure that includes VAT and contingency (which would have been very easy to either leave out from briefing points or explain down), they’re leaving an open goal for opposition and media to rip this to shreds. Is the idea to give it the thumbs up now, and then reverse course after the LE because of the criticism (and maybe even blame FF ahead of a GE)?

        1. martco

          “Is the idea to give it the thumbs up now, and then reverse course after the LE because of the criticism (and maybe even blame FF ahead of a GE)?”

          @Owen C
          funny I was wondering this myself
          it’s the only sense I can muster out in any of this

          else it’s incompetence on a level never seen before (well maybe recently, NCH)

    1. eoin

      Who the fupp was responsible for producing the Cost Benefit Analysis for the National Broadband Plan? [Family Name, First Name]. Whoever it was is an idiot

      ““However, as these benefits were reduced, the cost side of the Cost Benefit Analysis was also changed very significantly, with costs to the operator, again in present value terms, being reduced by €1.079 billion – apparently due to an error that gone unspotted in all previous iterations of the analysis…In summary, the Cost Benefit Analysis is not credible”

  5. Zaccone

    FF should really be using this as an excuse to bring down the government. Brexit is on the long finger now until Halloween, between this and the children’s hospital its the perfect opportunity.

    1. GiggidyGoo

      Micheál Martin hasn’t the wherewithal to grow two. Blustering and foostering day in day out as if he was projecting opposition. A coward A traitor.

  6. Cian

    Quick question.

    Is anyone else impressed at our civil servants who are putting their necks out to flag a huge issue even though it is may have political repercussions? Looks like our mandarins are doing a good job.

    1. phil

      Im impressed , and its the very reason its difficult/impossible to fire a civil servant , I commend him , we should see a lot more of it …

    2. Zaccone

      Thats a good point actually. Fair play to them for risking their careers by going against FG and Leo to highlight the issue.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Maybe it’s a case of them realizing how FG tend to ‘resign’ civil servants, and making sure it doesn’t happen easily to them.

    3. Medium Sized C

      A little like.
      The thing is its the minister who suffers the consequences, so its wasy to flag it.

    4. realPolithicks

      An example of government officials doing their job properly…a very rare example.

  7. Anomanomanom

    How many other times as this happened that we don’t about. A civil servant actually doing their job right and giving the best information they can to a minister, to then be ignored completely. Did the minister even mention this to anyone else before decisions were made.

  8. kellMA

    I can’t believe I am saying this; but I would actually vote for SF rather than vote for FG in the next election after this. I am done with them. The only way these people learn their lessons is at the ballot box.

  9. Rob

    This is nearly €1400 per worker in Ireland.

    I think between our 2.2 million workers, we could get the whole thing done in a day, maybe 2.

    Do you think we could all agree not to go to work for a day to get this done?

    Give €250 for labour (maybe €500 if we go into a second day), €250 for materials. We’d have the whole thing done in time for work next week and we’d save €2bn. Probably €4bn, taking account of future duck ups over the course of implementation of the current plan.

  10. axelf

    so people want broadband ahead of schools, primary care centres, social housing and ambulance centres???

    see page 4 of the Watt doc

    1. SOQ

      Right now,

      – Any company can track it’s vehicles to see who is breaking speed limits.

      – We all, or most, use apps to identify our particular interested nearest neighbour.

      – Insurance companies are talking mandatory speed limits in return for lower premiums.

      – Even Google maps will return your tracked history if you have not switched it off but ask.

      How? By satellite. As do many people all over the world for business use. And yet, running crazily expensive fibre across every dirt track in the countryside takes precedence over sick people dying on trolleys, hospital waiting lists, and affordable housing.

      How do you dig a pothole for fibre without repairing it?

      1. martco

        I’ve seen a good few posts from you positing Sat as a viable method. satcomms is frankly crap & unsuitable for all sorts of things. you might be happy with 5 meg when it’s not raining & massive latency but I’m certainly not. email/webbo/app layer/cloud shite sure. but you try administering some tricky time sensitive critical core plant over a jittery piece of string & see what I mean. not being mean just it’s horses for courses.

        the answer to this question comes possibly in a blend of transport methods & sure for the real hard cases maybe Sat would be acceptable. part of the solution. I also read here regular forays into 5G. same there..if actually somewhat unknown possibly part of the solution.

        we’re on the same page though. what I DEFINITELY would not be attempting here is to run a string of fibre to the household.

        its a ridiculous fictional paper-based nonsense.

        I cannot believe my country is about to fupp it’s people yet again for the gain of a small well-known cabal. again.

        1. SOQ


          I am not saying Sat is viable for everything but why must it be such an all or nothing scenario and why when it comes to future proofing, is there such an assumption that Sat will not improve? It will.

          Yes there are currently latency issues but from a business context, the starting point for any requirements specification is user needs and in this case, I very much doubt if it has been done. What % of users need fiber for what you describe? On the other hand, is high speed really going to change the way the average farmer works?

          I totally agree that a hybrid model would be way more cost effective. There is a range of options which while not ideal would be a a hell of a lot better than nothing. How many other countries have approached connectivity is such a grandiose manner?

      2. Cian

        You are talking about GPS.

        FYI your phone doesn’t talk to GPS. These satellites are simple radio transmitters and your phone has a receiver and can work out your location.

        The phone can then calculate your speed (based on how far you travel between each location) and this is sent to google via standard mobile G3/G4

        Nothing is sent from a standard mobile to any satellite.

  11. Vanessa (spiritually) Frilly Keane

    This lad isn’t as unusual in the mandarins community as
    ye might think

    They’re not afraid to speak their mind because they know their boss is never permanent
    And they’re all well accustomed to being overruled by Political Decisions

    Why d’ya think this lad made sure his advice was documented and had his signature nailed to it’s

    Anyway lookit
    Rural Broadband needs to be rolled out
    And it’s taken too long as it is

    But this yoke needed to be either Re-Tendered
    Or just handed to the ESB to deliver

    Jobs for the Bhoys
    Just can’t be bate
    No matter how evolved ye all think ye are

    Imagine if twas Regina or Frances or Joseph’s or Heather or Zappona in that Dept insteada Denis/ Dickie ….

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