Fianna Fáil councillors are set to come under pressure to show their support for the most significant investment in rural Ireland since rural electrification and back the National Broadband Plan, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Clare TD Joe Carey, Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Rural and Community Development, said: “I understand my Fine Gael colleagues on county councils around the country are to give a chance to their Fianna Fáil (FF) counterparts to disassociate themselves from the position taken by their leadership against the NBP, by asking them to back a motion in support of the plan.
“When the contract was signed by Government, Fianna Fáil’s leadership quietly dropped their bizarre opposition to the most significant investment in rural Ireland in decades. The rollout of rural broadband will bring equality of opportunity to all but Fianna Fáil and their reckless politicking wanted to stop it.
“The rollout will see high speed broadband delivered to the 1.1 million people living and working in the nearly 540,000 premises nationally, including 100,000 businesses and farms, and over 600 schools, where commercial operators will not commit to deliver the service.
“Will FF councillors continue to hold the party line on this? Will they continue to show people that FF has gotten so tangled up in their pursuit of support in Dublin that they don’t really care about investing in rural Ireland?
“We have seen total incoherence on this subject from FF’s leadership: they wanted broadband but not the NBP. They had no plan to deliver broadband but insisted that its delivery was a priority.
“Maybe their councillors can clear up just where the party stand on delivering broadband. They’ll get the opportunity in the next couple weeks.”
Senator Michelle Mulherin, who is a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine, said the significance of this investment cannot be overstated.
“It will transform lives for people in rural Ireland, changing how people work, how they learn and how they access services. Where appropriate it will change how they access health services, and how they farm.
“This is about bring equality of opportunity to every person in the country, and Fine Gael is the only party who had a plan and a vision to deliver rural broadband to every home, business and farm.
“FF wanted to derail it, but thankfully work is due to begin very soon and the long-awaited delivery of broadband to people in rural Ireland will get underway,” Senator Mulherin said.
Senator Tim Lombard, who is a member of the Oireachtas Communications Committee, said, ““Unlike Fianna Fáil and others, Fine Gael is working to ensure rural Ireland is to the fore of the country’s progression and development.
“Whereas we have a plan for the country, opposition and critics like Fianna Fáil provide only obstacles. They have no plan, no solutions and no policies for broadband for Ireland.”