Minister of State Pat Breen has become embroiled in controversy after it emerged he arranged for former Communications Minister Denis Naughten to attend a dinner with a key bidder in the national broadband process.
The Clare Deputy has also outlined he had met Irish-American businessman, David McCourt on a number of occasions in his role as minister of state.
Minister Naughten resigned from cabinet yesterday over revelations he met four times with Mr McCourt, the only bidder who is still involved in the national broadband plan process.
In a statement issued last night, Minister Breen has outlined meetings he had with David McCourt, the key bidder in the broadband procurement process, and has said he knows him “on a personal basis”.
The Minister of State with responsibility for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, he has “ no role in the National Broadband Plan, its rollout or its procurement”.
“In my role as Minister of State, I have had occasion to meet, or be present at meetings or events with David McCourt, who is a significant investor in Ireland,” he said.
“Mr McCourt’s home is about ten 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 outlined three occasions on which he had met Mr McCourt, of Granahan McCourt, on a professional basis, firstly on June 2nd, 2016.
“I spoke at the launch of ALTV.com at Ely Place in Dublin, following a request from the Department of Foreign Affairs,” he said. “The company is owned by Granahan McCourt. This is the first time I met Mr McCourt.”
He said on October 20th, 2016, he had a breakfast meeting with Mr McCourt in the Merrion Hotel, Dublin. And on December 2nd, the same year, he attended a meeting with the Shannon Group and Mr McCourt in Co Clare, in relation to investment in the Shannon region.
“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 stated.