Local Minister of State, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, has warmly welcomed the Government’s commitment to invest €46 million in the delivery of high-speed broadband to Westmeath as part of the national broadband plan.
“This is a very significant announcement for Westmeath and for rural Ireland. The signing of the contract for the National Broadband Plan will see investment of €46 million to bring high-speed broadband to 11,631 homes across Westmeath,” Minister Moran remarked.
The National Broadband Plan is the Government’s plan to rollout high speed broadband to the 1.1 million people living and working in the nearly 540,000 premises nationally, including 100,000 businesses and farms, and over 600 schools, where commercial operators will not commit to deliver the service.
“Busineses in Westmeath have been crying out for a high speed broadband service and it has been a constant issue raised at the doorsteps during the recent local elections and previously at the last general election.
“Delivering the national broadband plan is a competitiveness issue. Regionally located businesses must be able to compete successfully with a top quality service that will also sustain local employment,” Minister Moran remarked.
The Minister said work on the project would start immediately, with roll-out of broadband within eight weeks of the contract signing with over 90 percent of premises in the State having access to high speed broadband within four years.
“The funding means that rural Ireland will not be left behind and people living and working here will have the same access to opportunities offered by high-speed broadband as those in urban areas,” Minister Moran concluded.
As an initial step, the Government has published a list of approximately 300 community centres, schools, library hubs and local GAA halls in every county that will be connected to high speed broadband during 2020, to enable communities to quickly get free public access to high speed broadband.
In South Westmeath the relevant locations are Castledaly Community Centre and Moyvoughly Community Centre.
Echoing similar sentiments, Fine Gael TD Peter Burke, noted that it was a “landmark day” for Westmeath and rural Ireland.
“Quite simply this means rural communities in Westmeath will not be left behind. All of rural Ireland will get the same access to opportunities offered by high-speed broadband as those in urban areas.
“Fine Gael is delivering on transforming the country for the better and providing more opportunities to all. We have prioritised rural broadband as others, including Fianna Fáil, did everything they could to attempt to derail the plan in a bid to score political points.
“Unlike Fianna Fáil and others, Fine Gael is working to ensure rural Ireland is to the fore of the country’s progression and development. Whereas we have a plan for the country, opposition and critics like Fianna Fáil provide only obstacles. They have no plan, no solutions and no policies for broadband for Ireland.
“The delivery of high-speed broadband will be hugely beneficial to economic development and job creation in Westmeath. It will open up a whole range of possibilities, including flexible and remote working, smart health with online GP and nursing services and medical monitoring, cloud-based services and connected devices, smart farming opportunities, digital learning and reliable electronic payments and bookings for businesses.
“We want to ensure that people who wish to live and work in Westmeath are supported in doing so. It is so crucial for balanced regional development that everyone in the country does not have to go to Dublin to work, study or start an enterprise,” Deputy Burke concluded.