'A betrayal' - rural Ireland left to wait yet again for broadband
Fears over how to justify the spiralling cost of bringing high-speed internet to the most remote parts of the country have seen the Government stall on a decision yet again.
Ministers had been set a deadline of today by Taoiesach Leo Varadkar for approving the National Broadband Plan (NBP) - but the project is not even on the agenda for the last Cabinet meeting before the Easter recess.
With just one bidder left for the valuable tender, officials are undertaking what sources described as an "exceptional evaluation process" to ensure that the price paid for rolling out fibre broadband to more than 500,000 homes and businesses is appropriate.
The final bill for the taxpayer is set to be many multiples of the original €500m predicted. It is believed the costs could mount to between €2bn and €3bn.
Government sources said they are concerned that the NBP will be perceived as having runaway costs like the National Children's Hospital. As a result, the assessment of the tender bid is much more "invasive" than normal.
Communications Minister Richard Bruton said that "due diligence" is close to completion, but it's a "significant decision" and "time and space" is needed for it.
However, the delay has been described as a "betrayal" and "farcical" by the Opposition.
The NBP has been beset with delays and difficulties, including two bidders dropping out.