Wednesday 21 November 2018

Calls for Minister of State Pat Breen to step down over his role in national broadband controversy

Minister of State for Employment and Small Business: Pat Breen
Minister of State for Employment and Small Business: Pat Breen
Denis Naughten (Brian Lawless/PA)
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

A Fine Gael general election candidate has called for Junior Minister Pat Breen to step down over his involvement in the national broadband scandal which led to Communication Minister Denis Naughten’s resignation.

Cork North Central candidate Julie O’Leary tweeted that Mr Breen should resign over his role in organising a dinner between Mr Naughten and Irish American businessman David McCourt.

Mr Breen yesterday admitted asking Mr Naughten to attend a dinner in Mr McCourt’s home in Clare.

Mr McCourt is involved in a multimillion euro bid to buy the State’s broadband licence. The businessman’s consortium is the final bidder for the licence.

Ms O’Leary tweeted calling for Mr Breen’s resignation saying he should have to conform to same standards as Mr Naughten. However, the Fine Gael candidate quickly deleted the tweet. She has not responded to requests for comment.

In the tweet, Ms O’Leary said: “Pat Breen may not have intended to do anything wrong, but he needs to resign as a junior minister.

“He should have known that invitation was highly inappropriate. We have to measure everyone by the same standard and there needs to be consequences for his action.”

Mr Breen has remained silence since issuing a statement yesterday evening in which he detailed his relationship with Mr McCourt.

Denis Naughten (Brian Lawless/PA)
Denis Naughten (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Mr McCourt’s home is about 10 miles from my home in Co Clare. I have gotten to know Mr McCourt on a personal basis, have visited his Co Clare home several times and met him on other occasions in a private capacity,” he said.

“Last year, on the request of Mr McCourt, I asked Denis Naughten, then Minister for Communications, if he would like to come to a dinner in Mr McCourt’s house. Mr McCourt’s wife also attended the dinner. To my knowledge, the National Broadband Plan was not discussed at the dinner,” he added.

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