Dáil committee to ask for unredacted version of broadband cost warnings

Robert Watt

A Dáil committee is to ask Department of Public Expenditure secretary general Robert Watt for an unredacted version of his broadband cost warnings amid growing fears over the potential impact of the plan.

The Dáil's public accounts committee said it wants the information after the Government published Mr Watt's previously private concerns alongside two dozen broadband documents on Wednesday.

In a letter revealed on Wednesday, Mr Watt said he and his officials "strongly" disagree with any attempts to proceed with the €3bn broadband plan.

Citing the potential impact on other budgets for housing, schools and other publicly funded initiatives, Mr Watt's April letter said he believed it would be better not to proceed with the existing plan.

In response to the concerns, the PAC said this morning that it would now like to receive an "un-redacted" version of Mr Watt's warnings, which were mainly but not entirely published.

In particular, PAC members including PAC chair and Fianna Fáil TD Sean Fleming said: "We will be writing for an un-redacted version. When we get that we'll decide the next step. I think now there may be opportunity for discussion on information he [Mr Watt] felt he couldn't share on the day [he attended a PAC meeting last month]."

The PAC has separately confirmed it will seek a new meeting with Mr Watt on the broadband scandal, with Mr Fleming and Sinn Féin TD David Cullinane saying they would like to see the additional meeting take place soon.

Speaking in light of the new broadband documents, Mr Cullinane said the extra discussion may be needed as the situation is "so stark", while Mr Fleming said: "It's good to see not everybody is singing off the same hymn sheet."

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