‘No, We Won’t Be Bringing Down The Government On This’

at

This afternoon.

In Leinster House.

At the launch of a report by the Oireachtas Committee on Communications, Climate Action and Environment – following an examination of the National Broadband Plan process so far during May, June, July and August.

The report contains 25 conclusions and 10 recommendations which include

The Government should commission an external, independent review on whether its proposals (and the costs) are the only viable option.

A new cost-benefit analysis to be carried out before the final National Broadband contract is signed, commissioned by and developed independently of Government Departments.

The Comptroller and Auditor General should have a role identifying cost overruns in large infrastructure projects.

All infrastructure developed through the National Broadband Plan should remain in public ownership.

Government should re-engage with the ESB to examine the best model for delivery of a new National Broadband Plan through the ESB.

Chair of the committee and Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton told those present:

“As you’re aware this report was endorsed by a majority of the committee, by five votes to three, and it’s well known that the Fine Gael members of the committee, of which I’m a member, did not agree with the report and I totally respect the democratic decision of the committee which I chair.”

More as we get it.

Watch live here

UPDATE:

During the launch…

Green Party leader and Dublin TD Eamon Ryan said:

“Ultimately it’s going to be up to Government now to make the call. They have to decide can they change this? And if so, how do we do it in a timely manner?

If we don’t change it though, that sends out a message that worries me. That we’re engaged in consultation that isn’t, you know, real. You can look at ideas but actually once you’ve started on a path, you can’t diverge.”

Fine Gael Senator, from Cork, Tim Lombard said:

KPMG said it would take five years if we were to start this process again – that we could actually come to where we are today. They’re the experts in the field, going through this procurement issue. The department said it could take three to five years. So that’s what the actual experts told us.”

“…from my point of view, we now need to press ahead. We don’t need another expensive review. We don’t expert independence coming in to give us more information on information. We need to get boots on the ground. We need to start this, we need to get a contract signed.”

Fine Gael Senator Joe O’Reilly, from Cavan-Monaghan, said:

“We’ve had an exhaustive process. This committee has sat for four months, effectively, close to four months, instead of the projected two months. So an exhaustive process. No member of the committee and, by the way, we all worked great together and there was a very positive, constructive approach and I’ve nothing to say to the contrary.

“But no member of the committee had a potential guest or group refused admission. So everybody that was wanted to be there was listened to.

“….We’ve exhausted all levels of inquiry. There is nothing new to learn here.”

“…Should we reduce the cost? Should we reduce the €3billion? Yes you can reduce the €3billion. You can take €1billion off it and make it €2billion.

“And you do that by taking 20 per cent of the homes out of it. In other words, defeat the whole purpose.

“…Why is it €3billion?…It’s actually €2billion net because there’s…effectively…up to €500million in there as a contingency in case things go wrong. There’s €345million for the VAT. So, effectively, it’s being stress-tested in terms of cost.”

“…Would a further inquiry throw up something we don’t know? The answer is no. Can we reduce the cost? No, without literally defeating the whole purpose of the exercise and discriminating against a chunk of rural Ireland. And thirdly, should we go ahead now? Absolutely so.

“People talk about State ownership as an alternative. That train left the station when we sold Telecom Eireann….irrespective of that, we have all the advantages of nationalisation in the plan, in this sense, that we will get 60 per cent of excess profits during the run.

“And there is, based on the UK experience, there will be a much larger take up than is anticipated. And we’ll also get 40 per cent of the value of the entire outfit, the entire NBI at the 25-year mark and they’ll be committed to another 10 years to 35.”

“…there’s a lovely old rural expression. That emanates from an agricultural society that I’m proud to come from. And it says you cannot go on weighing the pig. You must, at some point, start feeding it. 

“…I feel, like somebody from the country listening to this, that all the logic could be in delaying this could be to discriminate against the people for whom I come and represent.”

Fine Gael TD, from Galway, Hildegarde Naughton added:

Nobody, nobody has come up with an alternative, plan B, that is legally viable. Nobody, not even the minister. All the experts that came before us. Not even the recommendation of this all, cross-party, committee report. There is no plan B here. It’s just go out again, review it again.”

Fianna Fáil TD, from Clare, Timmy Dooley said:

“We can have another hearing if we so wish, maybe in the Dáil. I’m happy that the work of all members of the committee has done in trying to get to a position of which there are recommendations now.

“So we’re making recommendations to the Government. We can bring that through if we get time in the Dáil and have another debate…it won’t change. It’s still an option for the Government to either accept or ignore the committee report. So a discussion and debate in the Dáil, I don’t think will change the Government’s mind one way or the other.

“…Are you [Irish Examiner journalist Juno McEnroe] suggesting that we have a debate in the House on the report? Of which I think I know what the outcome of that would be. I know what the result of that would be, based on the cross-party support that has been found.

“Yes, we support the Government in the Confidence and Supply Agreement of which this doesn’t form part of. If you’re suggesting that I’m going to threaten to bring down the Government on the strength of whether or not they accept this report or not – well the answer is ‘No’. The answer is ‘No, we won’t be bringing down the Government on this’.

“We’ll be advising them from an Opposition perspective which is what we have done every step of the way. We have raised very serious concerns for the past two years and we continue to act as a responsible Opposition.”

Related: Consultants paid lavishly for wrong advice on broadband (Cantillon, The Irish Times)

Previously: Overly Complex, Restrictive, Redundant And Unfit For Purpose’

Rollingnews

22 thoughts on “‘No, We Won’t Be Bringing Down The Government On This’

  1. eoin

    Five votes to three.

    The three are the three FG members of the committee, Hildie and two senators, Joe O’Reilly and Tim Lombard.

    https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/committees/32/communications-climate-action-and-environment/membership/

    But there are 11 members of the committee and 5:3 is only eight. What about the other three members.

    I wonder how convicted criminal and supporting star at the Moriarty Tribunal, Deputy Michael Lowry voted? I’d bet in the circs he abstained.

  2. eoin

    The FG senator, Joe O’Reilly (who was recently cleared of any wrongdoing or corruption at the Council of Europe linked to Azebaijani bribes) claims the National Broadband Plan is “ingenious”.

    Did the Shinner member of the Committee, Brian Stanley not even bother to turn up?

    FFers say they won’t bring down the government if Richard Bruton signs the deal with consortium led by the Boston private equity group and which features Denis O’Brien/Siteserv.

  3. phil

    What interests me about this is how they will manage to ignore all good advice and push this through , we know from history that there will be no collars felt if this ends up in a tribunal ….

  4. eoin

    Sign it, Richard, sign it quick!

    The bid price for the best bonds in Denis O’Brien’s Digicel have fallen to 37c in the dollar.

    https://www.boerse-frankfurt.de/bond/USG27649AG04

    [Denis O’Brien owns Siteserv/Actavo which was, at the last minute in a multi-year procurement process, swapped into the winning consortium after the disgraced decision-making minister held a secret dinner with the lead bidder in New York where the minister agreed that a consortium composition could be changed without affecting the bid. In the past year, the value of the National Broadband Plan has increased from €500m to €5 (five) billion]

    1. Liam Deliverance

      “Fine Gael Senator, from Cork, Tim Lombard said: KPMG said . . . .They’re the experts in the field”

      And from the link above https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/consultants-paid-lavishly-for-wrong-advice-on-broadband-1.3998019

      “Boiled down, it advised the Government to choose a gap-funding model with the winning bidder retaining ownership of the new network. Such a model, KPMG said, would lead bidders to place a high “strategic value” on securing the contract, which would trigger a more competitive process, potentially driving down the size of the State subsidy required. The opposite happened. The advice was wrong.”

      and

      “The €25 million dished out in fees to firms such as KPMG has been an unmitigated disaster.”

  5. Cian

    The Government should commission an external, independent review on whether its proposals (and the costs) are the only viable option.

    Who could do this? KPMG? PWC? EY? Deloitte? an how much will it cost?

    Or give it to a mom-and-pop firm?

  6. Liam Deliverance

    “KPMG said it would take five years if we were to start this process again – that we could actually come to where we are today. They’re the experts in the field”

    How long would a similar tender process take in the UK, Norway or Germany for example. I would imagine it’s only Ireland where things like this take 5 years.

    1. Liam Deliverance

      I also wonder how much is it likely to cost a rural subscriber of this NBP once it is up and running. So say a basic 100Mb broadband connection for a user in West Cork, in Connemara and one in Donegal for example. Have they ever said what they intend to charge for this, a relevant question I would have thought? If it costs 5 billion and the consumer ultimately pays then will not the price to the consumer be much higher than the norm, prohibitively high?

  7. Liam Deliverance

    “People talk about State ownership as an alternative. That train left the station when we sold Telecom Eireann….irrespective of that, we have all the advantages of nationalisation in the plan, in this sense, that we will get 60 per cent of excess profits during the run.

    “And there is, based on the UK experience, there will be a much larger take up than is anticipated. And we’ll also get 40 per cent of the value of the entire outfit, the entire NBI at the 25-year mark and they’ll be committed to another 10 years to 35.”

    Can anyone elaborate on this?

  8. GiggidyGoo

    Sure why would FF bring down a FF government over it. After all, didn’t Brian Cowboy get a nice sop going onto a company board from the big man? They are all on his pocket. FFGLABOWRY. All of them.
    This is theft from the taxpayer.

  9. Ron

    Any other properly functioning democracy the people would be put in mass demonstrations on the street if this was happening! It’s incredible, it’s grotesque and it’s a complete abuse of power and the impotent Irish electorate will just roll over as they normally do.

    The silly Irish electorate are allowing the political boopkins to do this.

    Pathetic

  10. Daisy Chainsaw

    I doubt there’s any situation where the sleeveens in Fianna Failure would bring down the government. They need to keep the snouts in the trough, so they prostrate themselves as FG’s eunuchs. No less than I’d expect from the party of Charlie, Bertie, Brian etc.

  11. eoin

    Green party leader Eamon *Ryan* and chairperson Hildie NaughtOn, lest she be confused with the disgraced former minister Denis Naughten who was fired for his secret meetings with the lead bidder (who has won the €5 billion business).

    The report is available here.

    https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/committee/dail/32/joint_committee_on_communications_climate_action_and_environment/reports/2019/2019-08-27_report-on-an-investigation-to-examine-the-national-broadband-plan-process-thus-far-and-how-best-to-proceed-and-the-best-means-to-roll-out-rural-broadband_en.pdf

    Is RTE not reporting the launch? How strange, but then again, Denis Naughten did give RTE an extra €8 m a year in arguably-illegal state aid the day before he was fired. And also, Richard Bruton gets to decide if loss-making RTE stays in business.

  12. Chucky R. Law

    The new generation of satellite broadband will make this rural broadband network obsolete before it’s even finished. Yet they still want to squander billions.

  13. Truth in the News

    The best bit is laying a parallel cable aside the existing Eir fibre optic network and then
    paying them almost a Billion for the use of poles and ducts which are located on public
    property that Eir do not own, its like building two highways where only one is needed
    This NBP stinks and who is waiting in the wings to cash in, and who cashed in with
    Irish Water….oh what is Eir’s .capex on the delivery of a service to their 300 thousand
    premises, would it ever be, that what lump Eir gets will cover capex on their present
    fibre network couple of times over …….?

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