Sinn Féin MEP and Ireland South European candidate Liadh Ní Riada has called on the Minister for Communications Richard Bruton to “hit the pause button” on the National Broadband Plan.
It was announced on Thursday that the plan is set to exceed €5 billion in cost, factoring in private investment. It has also emerged that the government will not own the network once complete, despite paying the bulk of the cost.
Ní Riada said on The Tonight Show that it was bonkers that the government are ignoring the advice of senior department officials in an attempt to secure votes in rural areas of the country.
“It is absolutely bonkers. The government is ignoring the advice of senior department officials and continuing to plough on with what can only be described as any attempt to buy votes in our rural towns and villages.”
“It is becoming clearer by the day that Fine Gael is using the National Broadband Plan as a cynical election ploy,” said Ní Riada.
The former presidential candidate mentioned her concerns of the private bidder and their commitment to the project.
“There are serious concerns about the ability of the preferred bidder to deliver the network required. They have very little skin in the game and could walk away at any time.”
“We are talking about a €3 billion public investment for a network that will ultimately be owned by a private operator. The government are creating a situation where the needs of rural Ireland will always be secondary to the profit motive of the operator. ”
“This is extremely dangerous. We are not looking at the selling off of the family silver. We are looking at a give away,” added Ní Riada.
Ni Riada believes the people need a reliable and cost effective broadband plan, stating that the government must stop while they are ahead and revise their options.
“This plan is high risk. This plan is flawed. This plan is compromised.”
“The people need a broadband plan that is reliable, cost effective, and deliverable. The Minister must now hit the pause button on this plan and alternative options must be considered,” concluded Ní Riada.