Junior minister under pressure to explain meetings with businessman

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Junior minister under pressure to explain meetings with businessman


Junior Business Minister Pat Breen. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Junior Business Minister Pat Breen. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Junior Business Minister Pat Breen is under growing pressure to provide more details of his meetings with businessman David McCourt to the Dáil.

The Labour Party is demanding that he appear before TDs to outline the reasons for the meetings.

Mr Breen got dragged into the controversy over the National Broadband Plan (NBP) after it emerged he had invited then-communications minister Denis Naughten to a dinner in Mr McCourt’s Irish home last year. Mr Breen said that to his knowledge the NBP was not discussed.

Mr McCourt’s company Granahan McCourt leads the last remaining NBP bid.

Mr Naughten resigned amid criticism of his meetings with McCourt. Mr Breen subsequently revealed he also had three meetings with Mr McCourt, including a breakfast meeting in October 2016.

Labour TD Seán Sherlock said Mr Breen must make “a clear statement to the Dáil, outlining the purposes of all these meetings, and the topics of discussions”.

Meanwhile, Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy has lodged a complaint with the Ceann Comhairle’s office accusing Mr Breen’s office of refusing to answer questions on the meetings within time-lines set out in Dáil rules.

She said this was “simply not acceptable and is a highly unusual occurrence”.

Last night, a Department of Business spokesperson said it had apologised to Ms Murphy for the delay, which it said occurred due to an “administrative oversight”, and a reply was sent yesterday.

Mr Breen has previously pointed out that he has no role in the NBP, its rollout or its procurement.

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