Tag Archives: Denis O’Brien

Whatsapp messages released to Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy under the Freedom of Information Act gives further details on the New York meeting between former minister for communications Denis Naughten (top left) and businessman David McCourt, which led to Mr Naughten’s resignation

This morning.

Via The Irish Examiner:

Social democrat TD Catherine Murphy, said it was only through her persistence that the thread of messages, many of which are punctuated with emoji, were released.

“In recent months I submitted a large volume of different and very specific freedom of information requests on various aspects of the former minister’s conduct throughout the National Broadband Plan process,” she said.

With the exception of a handful, they have all either been declined, sent back for rewording, or have asked for what are already narrow timeframes to be narrowed further.

“Every obstacle in the FoI Act has been put in front of me regarding getting access to basic information, such as the former minister and his official’s interactions with David McCourt, Granahan McCourt, and Enet.”

In declining to grant access to some of the conversation, Murphy was told that “pictures on the WhatsApp messages [such as] refreshments, individuals, and minors” had been removed.

Murphy said she has now been left with more questions than answers.

“I am also anxious to understand if I have been left short of screenshots of the group on the day in question,” she said.

So what happened in the Big Apple, Denis? (Daniel McConnell, Irish Examiner)

Denis Naughten FoI details show US meeting (Irish Examiner)

Previously: ‘Cleared’

Oh.

Yesterday.

IFSC, Dublin.

Fabulously indebted Denis O’Brien, former chairman of business college, the National College of Ireland, is conferred with an honorary fellowship of the National College of Ireland from Gina Quin, President of  the National College of Ireland and Leonard Mooney (right), current Chairman of the National College of Ireland.

It follows Mr O’Brien’s induction as honourary life president of the FAI last August.

Good times.

Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

This afternoon.

On Bloomberg.

A five-minute interview with Digicel Group Chairman Denis O’Brien who’s currently in Papua New Guinea.

He talks about Brexit, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May and the “terrific” job carried out by Tánaiste Simon Coveney on Brexit.

He says he reckons Ms May will lose parliamentary approval for the Brexit draft agreement and there will be a general election and then, after that, “we’re in no man’s land”.

Mr O’Brien also talks about Digicel’s bond swap and the possibility of asset sales.

And we wish him all the very best with that.

May’s deal is the best of a bad deal, says Digicel’s chairman (Bloomberg)

This afternoon.

Our Lady Queen of Heaven church, Dublin Airport.

Mourners, including from top: former Irish Olympic chief Pat Hickey, businessman Denis O’Brien and former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the funeral mass of Mr Ahern’s former advisor Paddy Duffy.

Rollingnews


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

Minutes of a private meeting between Minister for Communications Denis Naughten (top) and David McCourt, head of the last consortium to bid for the National Broadband tender.

Details of the dinner hosted by David McCourt, the head of Granahan McCourt, show that a far more wide-ranging discussion than was outlined by the minister took place, with at least four issues relating to the plan having been discussed at the gathering in New York in July.

…This week the communications minister said he had a discussion with Mr McCourt during which the “only issue” raised was that of potential changes to the bidding consortium.

…The document shows that Mr McCourt reassured officials who were accompanying the minister that an individual had been selected to take a role within the consortium which the department had requested be filled by a “permanent, Irish-based” executive.

Fresh doubts over Denis Naughten’s account of dinner with bid chief (The Times Ireland Edition)

Previously: ‘Here We Are Again’

Meanwhile…

Um.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and David McCourt, of Granahan McCourt Capital, during a Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) ceremony in Washington, USA last March.

Just a fabulous coincidence.

Good times.

David McCourt Awarded SFI St. Patrick’s Day Science Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Technology and Innovation (BusinessWire)

From top: Denis O’Brien; Catherine Murphy and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

This afternoon.

During Leaders’ Questions.

Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy raised the National Broadband Plan with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and claimed there will be no competitive tendering for the plan as there is only one bidder up for the contract – a consortium which includes Denis O’Brien-owned Actavo, formerly known as Siteserv.

Ms Murphy didn’t name Mr O’Brien.

But she reminded Mr Varadkar how it was a Fine Gael Government which awarded Siteserv a contract in respect of Irish Water – with the sale of Siteserv from IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank, to Mr O’Brien now the subject of a commission of investigation.

And she reminded him how it was a Fine Gael Government which awarded a mobile phone licence to Denis O’Brien’s Esat in the 1990s – a matter which became the subject of the subsequent Moriarty Tribunal.

Mr Varadkar said it wasn’t true to say there was no competitive tendering for the contract, saying there were many bidders but that it’s now down to one.

He said due diligence will be carried out.

He went on to speak about the importance of the National Broadband Plan but didn’t respond directly to Ms Murphy’s comments about Fine Gael.

She said:

“Just last week the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission was scathing about the potential monopoly within the waste sector. Yet, here we are, in this process, with only one bidder.

“And even that one remaining bidding consortium has changed so fundamentally from the initial bid, it’s almost unrecognisable from the entity which first entered the process. We had Eir and Siro exit the process while Enet remained on as the leader of the remaining consortium.

“In July of this year, SSE pulled out of the consortium. Enet replaced SSE with a State-backed Irish infrastructure fund. Yet, the consortium continued to morph and just last month, it emerged that Enet is no longer leading the consortium but is a partner, alongside other companies including Actavo, formerly known as Siteserv.

So Enet, the original bidder, is now only part of the consortium which is now led by a private investment firm called Granahan McCourt.

Taoiseach, surely you have concerns regarding the process and a substantial changes that have occurred within the bidding process since it was first launched.

You must surely be concerned with the links that will inevitably be drawn between previous controversial contracts being awarded and some of the same personnel involved in this consortium.

After all, it was Fine Gael in Government, when the Irish Water contracts were awarded to a subsidiary of Siteserv which is now the subject to a commission of investigation.

“It was Fine Gael who were in Government when the second mobile phone licence was awarded to Esat which then became the subject of the Moriarty Tribunal.

And it is looking like Fine Gael will be in Government when the National Broadband Plan contract is awarded to a consortium within which the same high-profile business people are involved.

Taoiseach it is vital that this process, for awarding the tender, is above reproach. Would it not be better and more pertinent to ask the questions now before any contract is awarded to make sure that there is absolute public confidence in both the process and the outcome.

My questions are: are you satisfied that the bidding process, where there’s only one bidder involved, it will deliver broadband and best value for money?

Do you have concerns regarding the sustainability of the remaining consortium given that it has changed so much since it entered the process and who’s stable will that be into the future.

And are you satisfied that the money spent thus far, in the process have achieved the desired outcomes?”

Mr Varadkar said he was satisfied that the tendering process had been “robust”.

Previously: ‘Too Often In Ireland We Ask The Pertinent Questions After The Fact’

Previously: ‘543,000 Families And Businesses Do Not Care What Name Is On The Side Of The Van’

From top: Logo for Actavo, formerly Siteserv, Minister for Communications Denis Naughten

Last week Minister for Communications Denis Naughten revealed that Denis O’Brien’s Actavo, formerly known as Siteserv, was part of the final consortium bidding for the national broadband plan (NBP)

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has accepted a request to quiz Department of Communications officials on the tendering of the contract, following an appeal from Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy.

Ms Murphy has asked the public spending watchdog to ‘consider why some companies exited the tender process and also to review the circumstances which preceded the opening of the tender process’.

Ms Murphy said:

“It is absolutely fair to point out that the entire tendering process has substantially changed since it first began.

We now find ourselves in a situation where some parties have exited the process leaving only one party vying for the lucrative contract. In addition, the one remaining consortium has itself changed substantially since it first entered the process.

I also think we need explanations about the circumstances which preceded the process, including the contract for the MAN’s and how that might have affected the valuation of Enet & the State’s subsequent purchase of a large portion of Enet.

The roll-out of the NBP is the next vital piece of communications infrastructure in this country and it is vital that when the contract is awarded there are no questions left hanging regarding the robustness of the process.

Too often in Ireland we ask the pertinent questions after the fact and end up dealing with legacy issues so this time I am asking that we address those questions before the contract is awarded.”

Previously: ‘543,000 Families And Businesses Do Not Care What Name Is On The Side Of The Van’

Denis O’Brien

Digicel Group was huddling with its creditors on Tuesday after they summarily rejected a plan to swap out US$3 billion of the telecom’s bond for longer term debt, a proposal that would have given the company a two-year reprieve.

It also extended the deadline for accepting the offer by three weeks, from September 28 to October 19.

The company has been liquidating assets as a means of generating cash, but its efforts have been judged inadequate by ratings agencies, leading to credit downgrades. At last estimate, Digcel Group’s leverage was around 6.5 times its adjusted earnings.

Three beeelion dollars.

*touches side of lips with pinky finger*

Digicel extends refinancing offer as bondholders revolt (The Jamaica Gleaner)

Pic: Bloomberg