Election speculation as storm hits government over minister's resignation

Thursday, 11th October, 2018 3:45pm

Election speculation as storm hits government over minister's resignation

SPECULATION of an early general election has been fuelled by Denis Naughten's resignation as Minister for Communications, Climate Action and the Environment amid controversy over the National Broadband Plan.

He made the announcement in the Dáil chamber this afternoon.

Deputy Naughten said it was clear that the Taoiseach did not have confidence in him.

He said that a meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar he offered to hand over the National Broadband Plan to Minister of State Sean Kyne. However, he said the Taoiseach refused to consider that and asked him to consider his position.

"For my family, constituents and 1.1 million people waiting for this essential broadband service, to ordinary people in rural Ireland, I've given the Taoiseach my resignation."

Deputy Naughten said he was "absolutely satisfied" that there was no interference in the procurement process by him.

Yesterday, it was reported that Deputy Naughten paid for lunch for David McCourt, the US businessman involved in the tender for the broadband plan.

The lunch took place last April in Leinster House, and Deputy Naughten confirmed yesterday that he booked Mr McCourt and his family into the Leinster House restaurant to have a celebration.

Deputy Naughten did not attend the lunch at the time.

The controversy points in instability within the government ranks at a time when talks with Fianna Fáil to extend the confidence and supply agreement are underway. 

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