Tag Archives: Granahan McCourt

Economist Colm McCarthy

This morning.

Jack Horgan-Jones, in The Irish Times, reports that the Department of Communications has said Eir’s €1bn proposal to deliver rural broadband – as an alternative to that of the more expensive Granahan McCourt’s National Broadband Plan – “has not met” the State’s criteria for the project.

It follows Peter O’Dwyer reporting in The Sunday Business Post yesterday that Eir – which was previously in the bidding process until it dropped out in January 2018 –  had rubbished the Government’s claim that up to 81,000 premises across Ireland would have to pay higher bills for high-speed fibre broadband under Eir’s plan. Eir said the figure would, instead, be 9,000.

CEO of Eir Carolan Lennon, who told an Oireachtas committee just last week that it could do the project for €1billion, has an op-ed piece in today’s Irish Times claiming it warned the Government about “unnecessary costs and complexity for almost two years while we were in the process”.

Ms Lennon writes:

“For €1 billion we could build a network which would pass all the rural premises in the NBP with high-speed broadband and connect all those who want it to their broadband provider of choice.

“We would use Eir’s existing infrastructure, rather than building over it like National Broadband Ireland has chosen to do. Most significantly we would use the expertise Eir has gained over the past three years rolling out fibre at pace and scale in rural Ireland, passing 340,000 rural premises later this summer (more than 70 per cent of the number of rural premises in the NBP).”

“…The vast majority of homes in rural Ireland already have an Eir connection and we would reuse the existing overhead or underground plant where available. This would deliver affordable connections to customers across rural Ireland but be cheaper than the NBP approach because it reuses existing infrastructure rather than building new connections.”

Meanwhile, yesterday, on RTÉ Radio One’s Marian, hosted by Brendan O’Connor…

During a segment on the National Broadband Plan, economist Colm McCarthy called for a judge-led inquiries into the cost overruns for both the National Broadband Plan and the National Children’s Hospital.

He said:

“Every time there is a really big cock-up in the Irish public capital programme – and there have been lots of them, the National Children’s Hospital was another one – there doesn’t seem to be a threshold, above which the Government says ‘we really should have a detailed inquiry going back to the beginning in this case’.

“And I think we should.

I think there should be a judge-led public, sworn, inquiry into both the broadband plan and the National Children’s Hospital.

“…The temptation always is to say, ‘ah sure what’s €2bn or what’s €1bn on the national….sign the cheque and God is good and we’re off to the elections’ and so on.

The cock-ups, just this year, have been so big that it’s a wake-up call to anybody. We have a great big National Development Plan, a great big public capital programme, heading for €7bn per annum to be spent on all sorts of different kinds of infrastructure.

“There is no chance of a rational, careful programme of public investment here in the years ahead unless the errors that have arisen in these two cases are fully documented, names are named and the lessons are drawn to avoid a repetition.

We’ve been screwing up things in the public capital programme, Brendan, since I was a kid. There have been shocking cost overruns, huge mistakes made…”

“…it is feasible to learn the lessons from these two fiascos.”

Eir best-placed to provide rural broadband solution (Carolan Lennon, The Irish Times)

Eir broadband plan looks set to be rejected by State (Jack Horgan-Jones, The Irish Times)

Eir’s claim puts broadband cat amongst the pigeons (Peter O’Dwyer, The Sunday Business Post)

Listen back to Marian in full here

From top: Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy; Minister for Communications Richard Bruton; David McCourt with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at a Science Foundation of Ireland event in new York, March 2018; KPMG logo

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy recently tabled a question for the Minister for Communications Richard Bruton.

She asked if his department had engaged KPMG in relation to the National Broadband Plan -which is also being engaged by Granahan McCourt, the preferred bidder for the NBP.

In a written response yesterday, Mr Bruton said:

KPMG Ireland was one of a number of advisors appointed by my department to provide specialist advice and services in relation to the National Broadband Plan (NBP), following a competitive tender process in 2015.

KPMG continues to provide advice and services to my department in relation to the NBP.

This include specialist commercial and financial advice; review of commercial operator plans, the procurement process and supporting documents, and preparation of commercial/financial provisions of the NBP contract.

My department is aware that KPMG Ireland performs the statutory audit of and provides tax advice to, Granahan McCourt Dublin (Ireland) Limited and my department is satisfied that appropriate safeguards are in place.

This includes the audit and tax services being provided by different teams within KPMG Ireland and no contact between the teams with regard to the NBP advisory services.

Last month, in response to a question from Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien, Mr Bruton said his department had paid KPMG €11,475,285 for consultancy work it carried out in respect of the NBP since June 2015.

Ms Murphy’s question in full was:

To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if he has engaged a company (details supplied) on aspects of the National Broadband Plan; if so, if he continues to engage the company; if the company is also engaged by the preferred bidder; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Previously: The KPMG Connection

 

From top: Denis O’Brien, Actavo, David McCourt, Minister for Communications Denis Naughten and Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy

Yesterday.

Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy asked Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dáil if he was satisfied with the bidding process for the contract for the National Broadband Plan.

There is only one bidder up for the contract – a consortium which includes Denis O’Brien-owned Actavo, formerly known as Siteserv.

The consortium is led by a private investment firm called Granahan McCourt.

This morning, Peter O’Dwyer, in The Times Ireland edition, reported that David McCourt, of Granahan McCourt, met with the Minister for Communications Denis Naughten in New York last July.

Mr O’Dwyer reported that, during this meeting, Mr McCourt informed Mr Naughten that the British company SSE may withdraw from the consortium which it eventually did.

Mr O’Dwyer reported:

SSE pulled out of the consortium at the end of July in what was regarded as a significant setback for the state-backed scheme, which aims to provide high-speed broadband to 543,000 rural homes and businesses.

Mr Naughten told the Oireachtas communications committee yesterday: “Mr McCourt made the point at that discussion that there may be a request put into the Department [of Communications] for an evaluation in relation to a change to the consortium, but that’s not a matter for me. I would have no direct input or role in relation to that and that was a matter for the procurement process.”

Timmy Dooley, Fianna Fáil communications spokesman, described the meeting as bizarre and questioned why the minister would meet a bidder if he had no role in the procurement process.

Naughten ‘must explain’ meeting with bidder (Peter O’Dwyer, Times Ireland edition)

Further to this…

This afternoon…

Ms Murphy released a statement in which she recalled the controversy over how Mr Naughten spoke with Heneghan PR official Eoghan Ó Neachtain, who was representing INM at the time, on either November 10 or 11, 2016, about the proposed takeover of  the Celtic Media Group by INM.

Ms Murphy, in her statement, said:

At the time of the revelations regarding the Minister’s inappropriate contact with representatives of INM, both the Minister and the Taoiseach were forced to concede that there had been a bad error of judgement from the Minister when he knowingly engaged with a party involved in a transaction directly under the remit of his department.

“Yet here we are again with the same Minister taking a private meeting with the head of a consortium containing some of the same personnel involved in the INM deal.

“The Minister acknowledges that details of the bid and the consortium were raised at the meeting therefore the question must be asked; is this yet another grave error of judgement from the same Minister?”

“Surely the Minister, and indeed the Taoiseach, must see the problem in the fact that yet again Minister Naughten potentially compromised a process under the remit of his Department and most certainly did not act in the manner in which he should have as the Minister in charge.

“Are we to once again accept the paltry explanation that the Minister was acting in a personal capacity rather than Ministerial?

“Either way, this meeting was wholly inappropriate and raises even more concerns regarding the tendering process for the National Broadband Plan – a process which already has some serious questions hanging over it.”

Previously: A ‘Robust’ Tendering Process

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

“I Sincerely Regret Expressing My Opinion…I Said Nothing Wrong”

UPDATE:

Namawinelake tweetz:

“It gets sleazier. Comms minister Denis Naughten says he had “a number of meetings” with the person leading the bidding consortium which includes Denis O’Brien’s Sitserv. Unless that “number of meetings” is one, there’s more to come from this.”

Read yesterday’s debate at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Communications here