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National Broadband Plan: Government sets aside €1 million for legal fees

The Government signed off on a €3 billion contract for the NBP last November.

Image: Shutterstock/asharkyu

THE DEPARTMENT OF Communications, Climate Action and Environment plans to spend nearly €1 million on legal services for the delivery of the National Broadband Plan. 

The NBP is the Government’s plan to roll-out high-speed broadband to 1.1 million people living and working in nearly 540,000 premises – homes, schools, businesses and farms – where commercial operators won’t commit to delivering service. 

In November, the Government signed off on a €3 billion contract after The European Commission granted State Aid for the project, which has been beset by delays. 

A tender issued on Friday for legal advisory services to support the delivery and governance of the NBP shows the Department is currently in the process of establishing ‘The Unit’ which will manage and enforce all contract governance associated with the NBP. 

As a result, it requires a service provider to deliver legal advice and has set aside €980,000 to cover these costs over a two-year period.

It requires legal services in the following areas; Commercial law, Telecommunications law, Procurement law, State Aid law and litigation. 

Capture Source: Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment

In November, National Broadband Ireland was awarded a contract for NBP after a controversial bidding process which led to leading bidders withdrawing from consideration. A contract was expected to be awarded in 2018. 

Former communications Minister Denis Naughten resigned, however, after revelations of meetings with Head of Granahan McCourt, David McCourt.

Granahan McCourt was the sole remaining bidder when it was granted ‘Preferred Bidder’ status in 2019. 

Opposition parties have criticised Government for signing the NPB contract, arguing Ireland’s broadband network should be publicly owned considering the State is investing significant money in it. 

In January, the Department said that it expected “significant interest” after issuing a tender for wireless access points for the NBP. 

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