Denis Naughten FoI details show US meeting

New information on a controversial New York meeting between former minister for communications Denis Naughten and businessman David McCourt has emerged. A string of Whatsapp messages detailing casual, emoji-filled conversations between Mr Naughten and staff who travelled with him to the US in July have emerged through a Freedom of Information request.

Revelations that Mr Naughten met the businessman, who is involved in the leading consortium bidding for the multi-million euro broadband tender, on a number of occasions eventually led to the minister’s resignation.

However, a review carried out by Peter Smyth has since concluded that the National Broadband Plan was “not influenced” by Mr Naughten or Mr McCourt.

The new information, seen by the Irish Examiner, reveals conversations including one message which informs those travelling to the dinner that Mr McCourt was awaiting their arrival.

“David already there & said ask for him at door,” it reads.

However, Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy, who submitted a series of FoI requests to the Department of Communications, said the fact that details have been withheld from her raises more questions.

“Every obstacle in the FoI Act has been put in front of me regarding getting access to basic information, such as the former minister and his official’s interactions with David McCourt, Granahan McCourt and Enet,” she said.

In declining to grant access to some conversations, Ms Murphy was told that “pictures on the WhatsApp messages — refreshments, individuals and minors” had been removed.

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