Joe Daly, the local election candidate for People Before Profit in the Castlebar district, has called for the broadband infrastructure to be nationalised and rolled out by the ESB.
Mr Daly said: "The story of rural broadband is a damning indictment of the establishment parties and their love affair with privatisation. In 2007, Eamonn Ryan of the Green Party promised broadband for rural Ireland. Labour’s Pat Rabbitte did the same in 2012, followed by his colleague Alex White in 2014, and Fine Gael’s Denis Naughton in 2017.
"Now, the Fine Gael Taoiseach Leo Varadkar tells us Rural broadband is set to cost the state at least €3 billion, possibly €5 billion and we won’t even own it! If broadband had been installed by a public company like the ESB or Telecom Eireann before it was privatised years ago, it would have cost only a fraction of this.
"This €3 billion cost will be paid for by 2,000 less social homes as well as 18 fewer primary schools and 10 less primary healthcare centres.
"The people of rural Ireland lost out in the festival of greed that followed the privatisation of Telecom Eireann (Eircom ) by Fianna Fáil in 1999 and the subsequent carve up, sale and resale of its assets by various companies. These privately owned companies saw no need to invest in a comprehensive installation of fibre optic broadband for 800,000 homes in rural Ireland because it simply wasn’t profitable.
"In 2013 the ESB clearly showed that it could roll out fibre broadband using current infrastructure and staff, for €500 million in two years. Six years later we find that it will take these private companies another seven years to do the job."
If elected to Mayo County Council on May 24, Mr Daly promised to bring forward a motion to the council to call on the government to nationalise the telecommunications infrastructure and roll it out via the original ESB method at a fraction of the cost, time and effort.