Tag Archives: David McCourt

David McCourt, left, and Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection Pat Breen

Yesterday.

In the Sunday Business Post.

Hugh O’Connell reported:

Fine Gael junior minister Pat Breen held a number of previously unreported meetings with David McCourt who is heading up the last remaining bid for the National Broadband Plan (NBP), The Sunday Business Post can disclose.

Breen met McCourt on three occasions in 2016 including at a breakfast meeting in the Merrion Hotel.

The Minister of State with responsibility for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection has also visited McCourt at his home in Co Clare on several occasions “in a private capacity” over the last two years.

Meanwhile…

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy

This morning…

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy lodged an official complaint with the Ceann Comhairle’s office, claiming Mr Breen refused to answer, within the specified timeframe, a parliamentary question she had asked regarding his engagements with David McCourt and bidders in the National Broadband Plan process.

Ms Murphy claims her question should have been replied to by Thursday evening last (October 18) but it wasn’t, while he separately provided answers to a journalist.

Ms Murphy said:

“The parliamentary questions process is a vitally important one and that it might be circumvented in any way is a cause of grave concern.

“It is exceptionally unusual for a PQ not to be replied to within the specified timeframe and for me to then see that the same Minister has spoken with a journalist on the topic whilst neglecting his duties under the parliamentary questions process is hugely frustrating.

“I have lodged a formal complaint with the Ceann Comhairle regarding Minister Breen and his Department’s actions in this regard and I await a reply. It is vital that the PQ process is respected by all Ministers and Departments no matter how unsavoury the answer they have to give might be for them personally.”

Breen had three more meetings with final broadband bidder McCourt (Hugh O’Connell, Sunday Business Post)

Previously: Courting David

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”


From top: Minister for Communications Denis Naughten; broadband consortium bid leader David McCourt; a document containing communication protocols between bidders and the Department of Communications

This morning.

Via The Times Ireland Edition:

A copy of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) communication protocol obtained by The Times has prompted accusations that the exchange between Mr Naughten, his officials and Mr McCourt contravened rules set down to protect the integrity of the procurement process in areas relating to the handling of bidder queries and officials’ permission to discuss the plan.

The internal department protocol said all queries from qualified bidders must be made through the eTenders procurement website and all responses must be made through the same system.

Minutes of the dinner released last week showed that Mr McCourt raised issues relating to the bid’s leadership team, the importance of meeting an impending deadline, the need for the bid team to have finalised its financing arrangements, and its internal decision-making process.

Denis Naughten ‘broke rules over dinner with bidder’ (Peter Dwyer, Times Ireland Edition)

Meanwhile…

Previously: McCourt In The Act