Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway, Deputy Eugene Murphy TD, has expressed his frustration at the virtual collapse of the National Broadband Plan as the only remaining provider SSE withdraws from the tender process.
"The withdrawal of SSE from the tender process comes at no surprise but is a huge blow for rural Ireland. I am calling on the Minister and the Government to reveal the Plan B that the Minister has referred to in the past in the event of the withdrawal of all interested parties who were participating in the tender process.
Deputy Murphy believes that the Government's National Broadband Plan commitments to the rural community have been broken.
"Communities up and down the country simply don’t believe what the Government is saying about its broadband plans because every commitment to date has been broken. We have had nothing but delay after delay with hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses still waiting to be connected to the network.
We also have appalling broadband connectivity in county Roscommon. A recent reply to my PQ to Minister Naughten shows that there are over 38,500 premises in county Roscommon of which almost half or 47 percent of premises are relying on the State led intervention under the NBP. Some 12 percent of Roscommon premises are still due to receive high speed broadband under Eir’s ongoing planned rural deployment," the Deputy commented.
The Deputy stressed the need for small and medium sized businesses to have access to adequate broadband speeds.
“Accessing quality broadband is a core requirement for small and medium sized businesses across the country. Let’s be clear the provision of quality broadband for rural Ireland is not a luxury, it is a matter of necessity for survival. Farmers cannot complete online applications for payments, schools are unable to access educational aids and businesses are unable to operate fully functional online services.
"I am sure that the Minister and the Government have to realise that the delivery of a National Broadband Plan is crucial and yes there is a cost factor, but not unlike the electricity roll out from 1946 it was a worthwhile investment in our country’s infrastructure. So I am calling on the Minister to go back to the companies who already have the infrastructure in place such as the ESB and Eir and give them a financial incentive to undertake this work and get the job done," Deputy Murphy concluded