Broadband is 'biggest issue' for rural TDs
Published 29/04/2016 | 02:30
Rural broadband is "far more significant than rural electrification" was in the 1940s, a TD involved in government talks has said.
Denis Naughten of the 'Rural Five' group told the Irish Independent that the lack of broadband was "the single biggest issue" on doorsteps during February's election.
"When people got electricity they wanted it because of the light bulb - but then they realised they could have televisions and cookers and milking machines. It changed life dramatically in rural Ireland.
"It's the same with broadband. It's not what it can offer today but the huge potential for jobs and foreign direct investment in the future," Mr Naughten said.
Michael Fitzmaurice of the Independent Alliance said broadband was set to be "a stumbling" block in the talks with Fine Gael.
Mr Fitzmaurice said he was aware of newsagents in his constituency where the Lotto machine doesn't work because the broadband was too weak. "That's how bad it is," he said.
He said the delays "will most definitely be one of the central points" in the government talks in the coming days.
Another Independent, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, said he had already made it clear during negotiations that he wanted the rollout of broadband brought forward to 2018 or 2019.
"The reality is we are talking about this Dáil lasting three Budgets but that might not happen. I want to be able to stand by my record and say I delivered on this," he said.