Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has said “Rural Ireland deserves a high quality broadband network, not a botch job.”
Ms Ní Riada made the remarks as the Cabinet met today to approve the National Broadband Plan.
Speaking from Co Tipperary, the Ireland South MEP said;
“The government has gotten this badly wrong. The process has been fundamentally flawed from day one. The tendering process concluded without any competitive element which raises serious questions regarding the integrity of proceedings.
“The government refused to consider any alternative options. I have serious concerns that the privatised model, being rammed through by Fine Gael, will not deliver the high quality network our rural towns and villages have been waiting for.
“We are talking about €3 Billion of public money, six times the original estimate, for a network the people will not own.
“My colleague Brian Stanley has called on Minister Bruton to appear before the Dáil this week to answer questions about the plan. Opposition spokespeople were previously promised a briefing that never materialized.
“The government is prioritising interests of the private sector over the wider public interest. Given the flawed nature of the process so far, there are very real concerns that costs may spiral out of control as has been the case with the National Children’s Hospital.
“The Minister needs to explain how the process has become such an utter mess.
“Sinn Féin has been advocating for a network based on the existing ESB system. It goes into every home in the state. The government closed its ears to it. They didn’t want to know.
“Rural Ireland deserves better. It is once again being sold a pup by Fine Gael to the benefit of private profiteers.
“The reality is that the government has turned its back on its responsibility to deliver the high quality, sustainable, value for money broadband network that rural Ireland needs.”