I have taken the Deputy’s question as referring to designated public officials as defined under the Regulation of Lobbying Act, 2015 – in other words, to include both myself as well as designated public officials within my Department.
As the Deputy would expect, the National Broadband Plan (NBP) has been the subject of ongoing engagement with the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, and with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, in the period since January 2016. This engagement has naturally included discussions of the evolving estimate of the subsidy required for the State intervention area of the NBP.
Over this time, designated public officials of our two Departments have had numerous meetings, both formal and informal, at which the cost of the National Broadband Plan would have been discussed, including, but not limited to, bilateral meetings on the Plan itself, bilateral meetings on other subjects such as annual Estimates negotiations, where the NBP would have been discussed, and meetings as part of wider inter-Departmental group meetings or on the margins of such meetings, at which the NBP may have been discussed either on a formal or informal basis.
This formal and informal engagement has taken place both at official level between designated public officials of my Department and their counterparts in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, and also at Ministerial level between my colleague Minister Bruton and me. This has of course also included past engagement with his predecessor, former Minister Denis Naughten.