Sinn Féin spokesperson on Communications and Broadband Ruairí Ó Murchú TD has given a guarded welcome to the National Remote Working Strategy and the news that the National Broadband Plan is to be accelerated.
The Dundalk TD was speaking following his contribution to a debate on Promised Legislation where he asked Tanáiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar about his plans for an acceleration of the National Broadband Plan.
Teachta Ó Murchú said:
“The Tánaiste said he was exploring the possibilities of acceleration of the National Broadband Plan. I know the Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan, said he had conversations with National Broadband Ireland.
“We need clarity about how that is going to happen. We welcome that they are engaging with private operators. The government should be meeting with Eir and ensure all avenues are being explored to ensure better internet connectivity.
“We have also been told by NBI in a Communications Committee meeting that it has its own team looking at acceleration and we are expecting updated timelines and deadlines within the next period.
“Minister Varadkar told the Dáil he hoped the National Broadband Plan could be speeded up to deliver in four to five years. While this was welcome news, we need far more details as to how this will be done.
“The accelerator for the government to develop the remote working strategy was Covid-19 and rural areas in particular could benefit if plans for 300 remote working hubs under the strategy come to fruition.
“But it is vital this happens in areas that are further down the broadband roll-out schedule. In addition, towns like Dundalk are ripe for multiples of these types of hubs to give people access to closer-to-home work locations.
“Minister Varadkar said there have been delays to the rollout of the National Broadband Plan because of Covid-19 and this is worrying news. I intend to raise it with National Broadband Ireland at a scheduled meeting with them next month.
“What the people who are waiting on broadband across the state want to know is when they are going to be connected. I will seek updated timelines from National Broadband Ireland.”