Serious risk rural broadband may not happen - Fianna Fáil warn
No contract has yet been signed to deliver rural broadband to half a million homes and businesses – and there is a serious risk that it may not happen at all, Fianna Fáil has warned.
The main opposition party today re-doubled its criticisms of the plan that is set to cost taxpayers €3bn.
Fianna Fáil communications spokesman, Timmy Dooley, said this week’s announcements were simply geared to boost Fine Gael in the local and European elections, which are due to take place in 15 days’ time.
The Clare TD said the Government claims were “bizarre” since no contract was signed with the contractors, Granahan McCourt. He said the Government were saying the contract would be signed in six months’ time – but there was considerable doubt about that.
“In fact there are real concerns that this contract will never be signed,” Mr Dooley said.
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The Fianna Fáil spokesman told the Dáil that far from being a breakthrough – the announcement this week amounted to an admission that the deadline of 2020 for delivery was extended out to 2027. He wondered if this really meant 2030 – or even 2040.
Mr Dooley also said the contractors would make back their investment inside eight years and own the network after 25 years, holding a monopoly of supply to people in the country.
Replying for the Government, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said if the Government had not made its announcement this week – the Opposition would have attacked them and accused them “of delay and indecision.”
Mr Coveney said the plan was the biggest ever Government investment in rural Ireland. He said the Cabinet had publicised everything right now and would continue this policy of openness.
But the Tánaiste said he could not at this stage of negotiations publicise how much the Granahan McCourt investment would be. However, that would emerge in due course.