Naughten had 'at least three other meetings' with broadband bidder - Taoiseach
"There were no officials present and there are no minutes" - Taoiseach tells Dáil of "at least" three other meetings between former Minister for Communications Denis Naughten and broadband bidder.

At least three other private meetings took place between the former Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten and David McCourt, who is a member of the consortium which is the lead bidder for Ireland’s National Broadband Plan, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told Dáil Éireann.

In a statement to the Dáil on Thursday evening following Naughten’s resignation, Varadkar said that he sought a meeting with the now-former minister Denis Naughten and there they discussed his meetings with 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

“Yesterday evening, I sought a meeting with former Minister Naughten where I asked him to outline to me his interactions with Mr David McCourt. I was satisfied with the explanations he gave.

“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 Pat Breen who was also present. 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 be assigned to another Minister.

“I said that I would reflect on it overnight and meet him in the morning,” An Taoiseach said.

He continued that he met again with Naughten on Thursday morning, where he informed the Taoiseach “he had at least three other private dinners with Mr McCourt”.

'No officials'

“There were no officials present and there are no minutes. He had not informed me of these additional meetings either when we met yesterday or when we spoke last night.

“I have no doubt that his intentions were honourable at all points. But I do believe he left himself open to allegations of a conflict of interest and an inappropriate relationship with McCourt which could have in turn brought the process into question, thus potentially jeopardising the project in its entirety.

“As a result of this, I asked him to reflect on his position. He asked that he be allowed to explain his position to the Dáil. I have since received his resignation in writing and I have accepted it,” he said.

The Minister for Education Richard Bruton has been appointed as the temporary Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

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Minister for Communications Denis Naughten resigns

The farmer's daily wrap: vet stand-off and counterfeit Landcruiser parts
Catch up with the headlines from the day and get a look ahead at tomorrow's weather.

Weather forecast

The west of the country will be affected by scattered showers overnight, according to Met Éireann.

Wednesday is expected to be a blustery, day with changeable rain conditions – ranging from scattered showers to hail throughout the day.

Atlantic coastal regions are expected to bear the brunt of the bad weather.

In the news

  • Gardaí recover fake Landcruiser parts worth €500,000.
  • Veterinary inspectors in factories are taking industrial action, which is having an effect on factory throughput.
  • IFA president Joe Healy has warned that there will be a knock-on effect if the national suckler herd contracts.
  • The High Court has placed a seven-week stay on a judgement ordering the detention of an indebted farmer resisting eviction from his land.
  • A number of dairy processors have set their milk price for November.
    LacPatrick holds milk price and adds winter bonus for NI suppliers
    LacPatrick has followed the lead of the majority of co-ops by holding its November milk price.

    LacPatrick Dairies has held its November milk price for suppliers both north and south of the border.

    Suppliers in the south will continue to receive 29.41c/l excluding VAT.

    Northern suppliers will receive 26.5p/l including VAT.

    They will also receive a 2p/l winter milk bonus for November milk.

    Last month, LacPatrick applied a cut of 1p/l to its October milk price for NI suppliers and said it was not in a position to pay a winter milk bonus.

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    Dairygold holds November milk price

    Gardaí recover fake Landcruiser parts worth €500,000
    Gardaí searched a premises in Monaghan as part of an investigation in counterfeit car parts.

    Gardaí have recovered up to €500,000 in counterfeit car parts, consisting mainly of Toyota Landcruiser parts, at a property in Drumgoose, Castleblaney, Co Monaghan.

    Jeep bullbars, tail lights, mud flaps and body panels, all bearing Toyota trademarked logos, were discovered by gardaí.

    The search was part of an operation investigating the importation and sale of counterfeit car parts.

    Gardaí added that no arrests were made as part of the search.

    Counterfeit Landcruiser parts.

    At the beginning of the month, gardaí recovered a large amount of stolen industrial plant, tools, trailers, vans, cars, engines and car parts with an initial estimate of up to €500,000 being recovered in Co Longford.

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    Gardaí recover €500,000 worth of stolen plant, tools and trailers

    Rural crime: ‘farmers require greater protection’