‘A Gordon Gekko scenario’ may be evolving with the latest revelations about the ownership of National Broadband Ireland (NBI), Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú told the Dáil.
The Sinn Féin deputy made the comparison with the 1980s arch-capitalist, played by Michael Douglas in the movie Wall Street, during a debate with Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys on Tuesday.
Deputy Ó Murchú raised the issue of the ownership of NBI after a series of articles in The Currency magazine cast light on the organisation’s corporate structure.
The Louth TD said:
“There needs to be a forum where Ministers Eamon Ryan and Ossian Smyth would deal with the questions of the ownership of Oak Hill Advisors being the main body behind (NBIs) Granahan McCourt and the fact that it looks like we have an almost Gordon Gekko scenario in control of delivering rural broadband.”
He said there are questions about the viability of the National Broadband Plan being delivered by NBI because of the financial arrangements behind it and the questions of the long term ownership of infrastructure that taxpayers are forking out for.
“It’s not NBI that I have the fear of, it’s the financial operations behind it that will lead to difficulties and the due diligence might not have been done in relation to whether Granahan McCourt had the financial arrangements that can deliver what we need it to deliver.
“I accept that it’s something that needs to be answered by Ministers Ryan and Smyth.”
The issue was not addressed directly by Minister Humphreys who revealed during the debate that the mobile phone and broadband taskforce are to hold their first meeting next week.
Deputy Ó Murchú said it was imperative that there was engagement from all the stakeholders and the work of the taskforce should also focus on delivering interim solutions for homes that could be waiting ‘four or five years’ for broadband under the National Broadband Plan.