Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has expressed his concern and surprise as Sinn Féin has cosied up to Fianna Fáil by calling for the National Broadband Plan to be axed.
Deputy Carey, a Clare TD, is chair of the Oireachtas Rural and Community Development and is committed to creating a counter balance to the capital.
Deputy Carey said: “The National Broadband Plan (NBP) is the only plan on the table to deliver high-speed broadband to every home, farm & business in Ireland. Thousands of hours of work have been spent developing this plan to take on the big task of linking every premises in Ireland to high-speed fibre.
“Yet Sinn Féin has now decided to join Fianna Fáil by calling for the National Broadband Plan to be axed. Like their newfound political allies, they also want to go back to square one, and impose years of delay on families, farmers and businesses who have waited long enough,” Deputy Carey said.
“Sinn Féin has always had a shaky understanding of the law, but on this occasion, they actually want the Government to break the law. That’s because Sinn Fein has decided the ESB should deliver broadband. Simply awarding the contract to the ESB is against EU State aid and procurement law. Obviously Sinn Fein doesn’t care about rural Ireland or the laws – something we already knew.
“The only legal route open to Sinn Fein is to axe the National Broadband Plan and go back to square one by re-starting the procurement process. This would add years to the process and delay broadband in areas where it is badly needed.
“It is important we remember the ESB were already a part of this procurement process, through their SIRO joint venture with Vodafone and withdrew from it after being shortlisted,” Deputy Carey added.