Thursday August 13, 2020

Hobson’s choice in rollout battle

The debate will continue to rage about costs and contracts, but the government could not deny internet access to 1.1 million people for much longer – and there was only one option left

Michael Brennan

Political Editor

12th May, 2019
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking at a press conference approving the next step forward for the rollout of broadband for rural Ireland, surrounded by leading cabinet members. The plan was harshly criticised by DPER general secretary Robert Watt Sam Boal/

There was one man watching from the steps of the Department of Public Expenditure as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar walked to the launch of the National Broadband Plan. It was none other than Robert Watt, the secretary general whose explosive memo warning of the risks of signing the €3 billion contract had been a thorn in the Taoiseach’s side all week.

Varadkar’s officials noted Watt’s brooding presence as they made their way up Merrion...

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