Irish energy chief resigns

Denis Naughten (Photo: DCCAE)

Denis Naughten, the minister who was in charge of Ireland’s energy and climate action initiatives, has resigned from the post following controversy regarding the country’s national broadband plan.

Naughten’s resignation was accepted on October 11, 2018, by the country’s Taoiseach – the official title for the head of government in Ireland – Leo Varadkar, who appointed the Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton on a temporary basis to the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE).

“I deeply regret that these events have happened but I believe that, in resigning, Denis has acted in the public interest. I am determined to see the national broadband plan through to completion,“ said Varadkar.

The controversy around the Ireland’s national broadband plan involves now confirmed meetings between Denis Naughten and the chief of a consortium bidding for the multi-million euro contract to provide rural broadband.

According to Varadkar, the independent process auditor for the national broadband program Peter Smyth has been engaged to produce an assessment whether or not the process had been compromised.

Speaking of his decision to resign, Naughten said: “When it comes to the national broadband plan, NBP, my absolute priority has always been to ensure that high-speed broadband is provided to the more than 540,000 households and more than 1.1 million people in rural Ireland who do not currently have access to this essential service, no more and no less.

“I am absolutely satisfied there has been no interference in the procurement process by me.

“For my family, for my constituents, and more importantly for the 1.1 million people who are waiting for this essential service, a vital service for ordinary people in rural Ireland, I have given An Taoiseach my resignation.“

Former energy minister Naughten was in charge of the DCCAE during the development of Ireland’s new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), approved by the government earlier in 2018.

The new RESS is expected to spur the introduction of sufficient renewable electricity generation to meet national and EU-wide renewable energy and decarbonization targets out to 2030, while also delivering broader energy policy objectives including enhancing security of supply, diversifying the renewable technology mix, and increasing community participation in and benefit from renewable energy projects.

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