Minister Denis Naughten T.D. has resigned as Minister for Communications Climate Action and Environment.
Minister Richard Bruton has been assigned on a temporary basis to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.
The news comes after Denis Naughten revealed that he had four private dinners with the key bidder in the broadband procurement process.
The national broadband plan is the government’s plan to provide high-speed broadband to every home; farm and business in the country.
An Taoiseach said that yesterday evening, he sought a meeting with former Minister Naughten where he asked him to outline his interactions with Mr David McCourt.
"He subsequently contacted me shortly before midnight last night to inform me that he had just remembered that he had a private dinner in Mr McCourt’s home in 2017. This was organised by Minister of State Breen who was also present." An Taoiseach said in a statement. 7
An Taoiseach added that Deputy Naughten suggested that in order to protect the National Broadband Plan project that he be reshuffled to another ministry or that responsibility for broadband is assigned to another Minister.
"No officials" and "no minutes"
"I said that I would reflect on it overnight and meet him in the morning. I met with Deputy Naughten again this morning and during the meeting, he informed me that he had at least 3 other private dinners with Mr McCourt."
"There were no officials present and there are no minutes."
The Taoiseach said that he has also sought a report from Mr Peter Smyth - thee independent process auditor for the National Broadband Programme in order to assess whether or not the process has been compromised.
“I deeply regret that these events have happened. But I believe in resigning, Denis has acted in the public interest.”
“I have known for over twenty years and we were in Young Fine Gael together and I have had nothing but respect for him as a person and a politician.”
“I know today is a difficult day for Denis and those close to him; however, my job as Taoiseach must always be to put the public interest first.”
Image source: Denis Naughten - Facebook.