I wish to be associated with you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, in terms of the sad passing of the former Deputy, Micheál Lynch, with whom I served for a brief period in the House. He was an outstanding Deputy and a great cultural man and musician. I know the people of Oldcastle and his family will be grieving today at the loss of such a wonderful and warm person.
There has been understandable concern and anger in respect of the broadband announcement by Government, especially in respect of the escalating costs of up to €3 billion to the taxpayer and, crucially, the capacity of the remaining sole bidder to deliver the project. We have seen shifting sands in respect of the composition of the consortium and the financial guarantees from various entities to underpin the project. I put it to the Taoiseach that the Government is not being fully transparent in respect of these financial guarantees and the relationship between Granahan McCourt Capital, GMC, and the various entities, including Tetrad and McCourt Global.
There has been a drip-feed of information from Government on this as a result of tenacious work by journalists and politicians. Last week, Deputy Cowen was told that there were three investors in the project, namely, GMC, Tetrad and McCourt Global. Yesterday, Deputy Dooley was told that both Tetrad Corporation and McCourt Global reiterated their support of the final tender. Then, last night, further written replies came in saying it was only Tetrad and GMC. Deputy Dooley was also told that Tetrad provided a commitment letter in respect of the equity only required for the project. In other words, it will contractualise a legal underpinning of €175 million from the lead bidder. This is a far cry from the figure of €2.4 billion, a figure the Taoiseach gave the impression to the House some time ago that it would be putting in. There is no legal lien on that, from what we can see. There has been a lack of clarity on all of these issues and there are no legal guarantees in respect of that. Last night, a written reply came in saying there were now only two investors.
I put it to the Taoiseach that in hindsight the meeting held on 16 July 2018 in New York between the former Minister, Deputy Naughten, and David McCourt and Frank McCourt was actually quite significant. It was one month before the deadline for guarantees of financial underpinning and the consortium had to be submitted. The deadline was 15 August. Four serious issues were discussed in respect of the project. There was a need for a permanent Irish-based leadership position. The importance of the 15 August 2018 deadline was relevant, as was the need for the necessary financing to be in place at the time. The minutes state that the deadline would be met and that the need for any changes in the make-up of the consortium should be avoided or, if necessary, kept to a minimum. It was stated that the importance of this issue was understood by the consortium. The consortium had been advised by Arthur Cox that as long as its lead bidder remained unchanged then such changes should not necessitate any delay. We now know of course that there was a change in the leader bidder from Enet to GMC. There was a change in the lead bidder and the consortium. There was a change in those financially underpinning the project too. There has been an impression since that McCourt Global has been in this from the very beginning. McCourt Global is saying it was not involved in this in any shape or form.