The decision by the European Commission this week to grant state aid approval to the National Broadband Plan means the landmark roll-out of rural broadband is a step closer, Cork North West Fine Gael General Election candidate Councillor John Paul O’Shea has said.
Cllr. O’Shea said: “The decision by the European Commission will allow the Government to proceed towards signing the National Broadband Plan contract with National Broadband Ireland. This is an extremely welcome development and will bring the long-awaited roll-out of high-speed rural broadband to 1.1 million people a step closer. This will be the most significant investment in rural Ireland since rural electrification and will transform communities, attracting investment, creating jobs and changing the way people access services including health and education.
“Fine Gael has prioritised rural broadband as others, including Fianna Fáil, did everything they could to attempt to derail the plan in a bid to score political points. Unlike Fianna Fáil and others, Fine Gael is working to ensure rural Ireland is not left behind in this country’s progression and development. Fine Gael in Government has a plan to achieve rural broadband, and Fianna Fáil have offered nothing but opposition to it with no alternative. Micheál Martin has said he wouldn’t sign the contract but has not come forward with a credible plan to ensure that high-speed broadband is delivered to every home, business and farm in Ireland.
Cllr. O’Shea added “This is another example of reckless Fianna Fáíl who are willing to risk the future prosperity of rural Ireland in a bid to grab some cheap headlines but who have no policies or plans to address the biggest issues facing the country – including rural broadband. The sum total of their broadband policy, according to their website, is ‘Roll out high speed, quality broadband across the state’.
“This is a scarily sparse so-called policy on such a complex and important issue – further proof that Fianna Fáil cannot be trusted to deliver for this country,
“The National Broadband Plan will benefit 1.1 million people, approximately 100,000 enterprises, 54,566 farms, 44,000 businesses and 695 schools. The benefits of extending high-speed broadband to every home, business and farm in the country are multifaceted, allowing an increase in remote working and supporting every farm to become a smart farm. I hope to see the contract signed as soon as possible so that this historic project can get underway. The people of Cork have waited long enough,” Cllr. O’Shea concluded.