“Broadband approval must benefit rural Ireland not governments short term election plan,” Mattie McGrath
Independent TD Mattie McGrath has given a cautious welcomed to reports that Cabinet will give the go-ahead for the roll-out of the National Broadband Plan (NBP). Deputy McGrath was speaking after it was first reported in the Irish Times, that government will approve the NBP in the coming two week despite massive concerns at the estimated cost; around €3 billion:
“From what we are hearing today it looks like the main motivation for the Cabinet and government to give the go-ahead to the NBP is political rather than community driven.
Indeed they are right to fear a massive backlash on this issue which has plagued rural Ireland for a decade and more now. But that is what accountability to the people looks like.
Despite this, Cabinet must take note of the likely budgetary impact this will have on other areas of rural development.
The estimated cost of the government’s broadband plan is around €3 billion at present. That is almost 14 times the entire allocation rural Ireland will get from European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development in 2019; which comes in at €220 million.
What is even more troubling is the fact that despite this cost, the state will still not have ownership of the broadband infrastructure after we pay for it.
Rural Ireland has a clear and unequivocal right to better broadband. I have always fully supported that option.
Questions remain however around how this will ultimately impact the delivery of all other rural programmes and schemes and whether their budgets will be slashed to pay for what has essentially been yet another epically disastrous procurement process conducted by this government,” concluded McGrath.