Limerick TD slams government’s ‘lazy attitude’ towards National Broadband Plan

Norma Prendiville

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Norma Prendiville

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normap@limerickleader.ie

Limerick TD slams government’s ‘lazy attitude’ towards National Broadband Plan

e-net is the only remaining bidder for the National Broadband PLan

FIANNA Fail TD for Limerick Niall Collins has lambasted the government for its “lazy attitude” to rural Ireland and declared that “the wheels have come off” the National Broadband Programme.

His comments come in as SSE has withdrawn from the last and only consortium still in the bid to roll-out broadband to 500,000 homes nationally.

“Fine Gael’s lazy attitude to rural Ireland has been laid bare for all to see with the latest disaster to befall the National Broadband Plan,” Deputy Collins said this Monday.

“The simple fact of the matter is that in their last two general election manifestos, Fine Gael has made promises to hundreds of thousands of citizens living in rural Ireland and across Limerick that it would roll out a National Broadband Plan. People across Limerick are becoming increasingly enraged at this fiasco and farmers, business and private residential homes are without one of the most basic services, decent access to broadband connectivity.”

Deputy Collins says with SSE withdrawing from the e-Net bid, it’s “crystal clear” that none of the companies capable of delivering the Plan can see an avenue towards a decent financial return.

“At every stage where progress was due, Fine Gael moved the goalposts to deflect from their abject failure. Time and time again, Fine Gael and their partners in government, whoever they may be, have failed to deliver the hard cash needed to roll out of the National Broadband Plan. Since Minister Naughten took office in 2016, every façade of the Plan has been diminished and downgraded, and any opportunity to reduce the State’s involvement has been taken,” Deputy Collins continued.

“The wheels have come off the entire National Broadband Plan and  Fine Gael and their independent colleagues have been caught out once again. They are  quite happy to treat rural Ireland quite differently to their South Dublin bastions,” he charged.  

Deputy Collins says the minister responsible, Denis Naughten and Fine Gael colleagues must now answer the hard questions:

“When did the minister become aware of SSE’s decision to withdraw from the e-Net consortium? Why has e-Net not been designated as the Preferred Bidder? When will the contract be signed? When will the first homes be connected?” he demanded. “Over how many years will it take to connect the 540,000 households and businesses?“

Deputy Collins has also called for a fully independent review of the Broadband Plan to date, which was agreed in the Dáil six months ago.

“Anything less and he (Minister Naughten) will once again fail to do what is right and proper by rural Ireland,” the Limerick TD said.