Rural communities up and down the country have been kept waiting for seven years for the roll out of high speed broadband, says Bobby Aylward
Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward has said the ability of the Government to deliver large national infrastructural projects is now in serious doubt, following the announcement by Eir that it is withdrawing from the bidding for the National Broadband Plan.
The plan aims to give 750,000 premises nationwide a minimum download speed of 30Mbps. Eir was one of two remaining bidders for the NBP until yesterday.
"The decision by Eir to withdraw from the NBP represents a damning indictment of Fine Gael in office," said the Fianna Fail TD.
"Rural communities up and down the country have been kept waiting for seven years for the roll out of high speed broadband by this government."
Originally promised for 2016, the Government last year committed to delivering broadband to 540,000 households in rural Ireland by 2016.
“This date is now is serious doubt, and I believe that this week’s announcement by Eir now puts this delayed target at jeopardy," said Deputy Aylward.
"I had hoped to raise this urgent matter in the Dáil today and promptly submitted a written request to the Ceann-Comhairle's office for a special debate on the matter. Unfortunately the Dáil schedule did not allow for such a debate but I will seek to raise the matter directly with Minister Naughton during question time in the coming weeks.
“I get the sense that the Government aren’t really serious about rural Ireland and rural communities such as those in Carlow and Kilkenny. Broadband is not a luxury for schools, families, businesses and farmers – it’s an absolute necessity. If it is not delivered soon, the benefits may be lost for ever as investment will not flow to rural and regional Ireland.
The local TD said that successive Government Ministers had failed to bring the crucial national project to completion.
"I am sad to say that I have serious doubts about when, if ever, it will be delivered," he said.
"It represents to me one of the greatest government failures in living memory, and demonstrates that when it comes to thinking big and delivering for rural Ireland, Fine Gael always fall short.
“We will never reopen the boarded up shop fronts, create jobs and sustain enterprise in our regional towns and villages if we do not have an equal platform of broadband services to compete with the larger cities. The current digital divide is completely undermining the economic viability of rural Ireland.
"SMEs are walking out of Rural Ireland because they cannot rely on reliable broadband services. They are not expanding and growing their business and creating jobs in their localities because the services and infrastructure are simply not competitively adequate."