Fianna Fáil General Election candidate for Mayo Cllr Lisa Chambers has accused the Government of breaking yet another promise on broadband. As part of the Capital Investment Programme announced this week, Communications Minister Alex White pledged to spend €275m on the National Broadband Plan. However, that is significantly less than the €512m initially promised for the project.
Cllr Chambers has called on Minister White to clarify the situation, saying: “When the National Broadband Plan was first announced we were told that €512m would be spent on rolling out high speed broadband to all homes and businesses in the country, however during this week’s capital investment announcement Minister White referred to a €275m investment – significantly less than the original allocation. This Government has missed target after target when it comes to broadband. In the Programme for Government, Fine Gael and Labour promised that high speed fibre broadband would be available to 90 per cent of homes and businesses by 2015 – they’re still waiting.
“The importance of a high speed broadband service cannot be underestimated. Businesses, schools, and homes are dependent on internet access for everyday activities but the gaping hole in the service in Mayo is putting the county at a serious disadvantage. Having a decent broadband connection is now a fundamental requirement for businesses. In the era of online shopping and service provision, businesses across Mayo are falling behind the curve. Without good broadband services we are closing off large parts of the county to potential investment. The latest figures available reveal that over 60 per cent of premises in Mayo will have to wait until at least 2021 to be provided with high speed broadband under the National Broadband Plan.
“The Government’s track record on broadband is abysmal. And now the Minister appears to be rowing back on commitments that were made over three years ago. This is simply not good enough. Minister White needs to clarify the situation as a matter of urgency. The broadband situation in Mayo is in desperate need of upgrading and I am calling on the Minister to be upfront and honest about the plans for the county, and not continue to make promises that will never be kept.”