16 February 2018
By Mary Bermingham
Can local communities, in rural Ireland, take the lead when it comes to provide the infrastructure that will allow every home, no matter how remote, with high-speed broadband?
West Cork independent TD, Deputy Michael Collins is calling on the government to ensure that the promises made to provide every home and business in rural Ireland with access to high-speed broadband is delivered. Deputy Collins said he “did not support the recent Fianna Fáil motion, when looked in to it deeper it would have not stopped the current process but would have delayed it further and would have Rural Ireland without Broadband for longer than where we are right now. I think going forward on an issue like this Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil need to sit down and work on a way forward as fighting this out in the Dáil is only going to delay the role-out further”.
‘The future for homes in rural Ireland gaining access to high-speed broadband is once again in doubt, thanks to the government’s lack of vision and commitment to those living outside the urban centres.’
‘The news that Eir has withdrawn from the tendering process to provide broadband to rural Ireland is just another example of the government’s lack of concern for those who live outside the cities and larger towns,’ Deputy Collins said. Eir has, of course, cherry picked the towns and areas the company wants in order to ensure that whoever ends up with the contract, to supply rural areas with broadband, will first have to got through Eir’s network and will have to pay rent in order to reach the many homes and business that are outside the main areas.’
‘This was no doubt Eir’s plan all along,’ Deputy Collins said. They can now leave the cost of delivering high-speed broadband to Enet, or whoever gets the contract. And once again rural Ireland suffers while the government does nothing to correct the situation and live up to its promises.’
Deputy Collins wants to see local community councils and voluntary groups taking a lead when it comes to providing their communities with the initial infrastructure needed to link rural homes with broadband.
‘This is where LEADER funding could play a part,’ Deputy Collins said. Local communities are well used to, and more than able, when it comes to providing the necessary work needed on the ground to ensured that their communities have access to services. This is an opportunity for rural Ireland to have a say and an important part in providing vital high-speed broadband to every home and business that wants it, no matter where they are located.’