Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has today (Wednesday) blasted the outgoing Government for its admission this week that the National Broadband Strategy, which was to ensure that every citizen and business, regardless of location, would have access to high speed broadband by 2020, will now not be fully rolled out until 2022 at the earliest.
The admission comes following a Dáil Question tabled by Deputy Doherty to the Minister for Communications in which he was asked to give a timeline for the completion of the multi-million euro intervention strategy. In his reply, Minister Alex White confirmed that all premises would not now be connected for at least another 5 years after the procurement process which is expected to be completed in 2017.
Deputy Doherty said:
“The Minister’s admission yesterday that the Government’s National Broadband Strategy, which was to see high speed broadband delivered to every home and business across this state by 2020, will now not be completed on time is simply unacceptable.
“When this plan was formally launched last year, both Fine Gael and Labour proudly boasted of how the Government was to invest €275 million on the construction of high quality broadband infrastructure which would deliver complete broadband coverage across the state.
“In fact, before the recent General Election, both parties included the National Broadband Strategy in their respective election manifestos in which they boasted of how the out-going Government would achieve its target of having the service rolled-out by 2020.
“We now know, following the Minister’s admission to a question which I tabled this week in the Dáil, that that deadline will now not be met and that the National Broadband Plan will not be completed until 2022 at the earliest.
“This delay is simply not acceptable and the pushing back of the expected roll-out of high speed broadband is yet another slap in the face for rural areas which remain without good quality broadband connections.
“Homes and business in Donegal, a county which has the worst broadband speeds on this island, will now be forced to wait even longer before they can access what is an essential service – this is unacceptable.
“The Government has been forced to hold its hands up and admit that they lied about the timeframe for the completion of the National Broadband Plan, and what’s worse is that they actively sought to mislead people simply for their own political gain.
“The truth is that neither Fine Gael nor Labour care about providing essential public services such as broadband into areas and communities which so desperately need them in order to grow and to reverse years of economic decline.”