Tuesday 24 September 2019

Publication of National Broadband Plan report stalled on Attorney General's legal advice

New Communications Minister Richard Bruton replaced Denis Naughten
New Communications Minister Richard Bruton replaced Denis Naughten
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Communications Minister Richard Bruton has stalled the publication of a crucial review of the National Broadband Plan after receiving legal advice from the Attorney General.

Ministers were given no insight into the report by Peter Smyth when they met for Cabinet today.

Instead they were told that people named in the document will have to provided with a copy before it is made public.

Mr Smyth was asked to carry out an audit of the bidding process to see if it was compromised by private meetings between ex-minister Denis Naughten and businessman David McCourt.

Mr McCourt is the head of the the only group left in the running for the valuable contract to rollout broadband across rural Ireland.

The minister resigned after it emerged that he attended a July 2018 dinner in New York hosted by Mr McCourt as well as another dinner in his home last year among other meetings.

The former minister has insisted the broadband procurement process has not been compromised but was forced to resign after losing the confidence of the Taoiseach.

Fianna Fáil has claimed the process has been “compromised”.

Following today’s Cabinet meeting, a spokesperson for the Mr Bruton said: “On the advice of the Attorney General, those people who are mentioned in the report must be consulted on the content of the report.

“The Minister will publish the report in the coming days.”

In recent weeks Granahan McCourt submitted their final proposals and costings for the project.  Even before details of Mr Naughten’s meetings emerged, their consortium are the only remaining bidder after other companies, including Eir, dropped out earlier in the process.

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